Preimplantation embryo arrest (PREMBA) is a common cause of female infertility and recurrent failure of assisted reproductive technology. However, the genetic basis of PREMBA is largely unrevealed. Here, using whole-exome sequencing data from 606 women experiencing PREMBA compared with 2,813 controls, we performed a population and gene–based burden test and identified a candidate gene, karyopherin subunit α7 (KPNA7). In vitro studies showed that identified sequence variants reduced KPNA7 protein levels, impaired KPNA7 capacity for binding to its substrate ribosomal L1 domain-containing protein 1 (RSL1D1), and affected KPNA7 nuclear transport activity. Comparison between humans and mice suggested that mouse KPNA2, rather than mouse KPNA7, acts as an essential karyopherin in embryonic development. Kpna2–/– female mice showed embryo arrest due to zygotic genome activation defects, recapitulating the phenotype of human PREMBA. In addition, female mice with an oocyte-specific knockout of Rsl1d1 recapitulated the phenotype of Kpna2–/– mice, demonstrating the vital role of substrate RSL1D1. Finally, complementary RNA (cRNA) microinjection of human KPNA7, but not mouse Kpna7, was able to rescue the embryo arrest phenotype in Kpna2–/– mice, suggesting mouse KPNA2 might be a homologue of human KPNA7. Our findings uncovered a mechanistic understanding for the pathogenesis of PREMBA, which acts by impairing nuclear protein transport, and provide a diagnostic marker for PREMBA patients.
Wenjing Wang, Yoichi Miyamoto, Biaobang Chen, Juanzi Shi, Feiyang Diao, Wei Zheng, Qun Li, Lan Yu, Lin Li, Yao Xu, Ling Wu, Xiaoyan Mao, Jing Fu, Bin Li, Zheng Yan, Rong Shi, Xia Xue, Jian Mu, Zhihua Zhang, Tianyu Wu, Lin Zhao, Weijie Wang, Zhou Zhou, Jie Dong, Qiaoli Li, Li Jin, Lin He, Xiaoxi Sun, Ge Lin, Yanping Kuang, Lei Wang, Qing Sang