EP Murchison, P Stein, Z Xuan, H Pan, MQ Zhang, RM Schultz, GJ Hannon
Dicer is an essential component of RNA interference (RNAi) pathways, which have broad functions in gene regulation and genome organization. Probing the consequences of tissue-restricted Dicer loss in mice indicates a critical role for Dicer during meiosis in the female germline. Mouse oocytes lacking Dicer arrest in meiosis I with multiple disorganized spindles and severe chromosome congression defects. Oogenesis and early development are times of significant post-transcriptional regulation, with controlled mRNA storage, translation, and degradation. Our results suggest that Dicer is essential for turnover of a substantial subset of maternal transcripts that are normally lost during oocyte maturation. Furthermore, we find evidence that transposon-derived sequence elements may contribute to the metabolism of maternal transcripts through a Dicer-dependent pathway. Our studies identify Dicer as central to a regulatory network that controls oocyte gene expression programs and that promotes genomic integrity in a cell type notoriously susceptible to aneuploidy.