Essential role for Argonaute2 protein in mouse oogenesis.
BACKGROUND: Argonaute2 protein (Ago2) is a key component of RNA-induced gene silencing complex, which is crucial for microRNA-mediated repression of target genes. The function of Ago2 in the mouse oocyte and early embryonic development is less well characterized but it is likely to have an important role in regulating maternally inherited mRNA. We have examined the role of Ago2 by conditional deletion of the gene in developing oocytes. RESULTS: Ago2 was deleted specifically in the growing oocytes. Although the Ago2-deficient oocytes are able to develop to mature oocytes, they have abnormal spindles and chromosomes that are unable to cluster together properly. This phenotype is very similar to the phenotype of Dicer-deficient oocytes. We examined the microRNA expression profile in the Ago2-deficient oocyte and found that the expression of most microRNAs was reduced by more than 80%. To determine the downstream genes that are regulated by Ago2, we used microarray analysis on Ago2-deficient oocytes and found that 512 genes were upregulated and 1,073 genes were downregulated (FC > 2, P < 0.05). CONCLUSION: Our study shows that Ago2 has a key function in the mouse oocyte through global regulation of microRNA stability, and through this mechanism it affects gene expression in developing oocytes.
Medical Research Council (G0800784)