The transcription factor p63 guards genome integrity in the female germline, and its mutations have been reported in patients with premature ovarian insufficiency (POI). However, the precise contribution of the TP63 gene to the pathogenesis of POI needs to be further determined. Here, in 1,030 Chinese patients with POI, we identified 6 heterozygous mutations of the TP63 gene that impaired the C-terminal transactivation-inhibitory domain (TID) of the TAp63α protein and resulted in tetramer formation and constitutive activation of the mutant proteins. The mutant proteins induced cell apoptosis by increasing the expression of apoptosis-inducing factors in vitro. We next introduced a premature stop codon and selectively deleted the TID of TAp63α in mice and observed rapid depletion of the p63+/ΔTID mouse oocytes through apoptosis after birth. Finally, to further verify the pathogenicity of the mutation p.R647C in the TID that was present in 3 patients, we generated p63+/R647C mice and also found accelerated oocyte loss, but to a lesser degree than in the p63+/ΔTID mice. Together, these findings show that TID-related variants causing constitutive activation of TAp63α lead to POI by inducing oocyte apoptosis, which will facilitate the genetic diagnosis of POI in patients and provide a potential therapeutic target for extending female fertility.
Chengzi Huang, Simin Zhao, Yajuan Yang, Ting Guo, Hanni Ke, Xin Mi, Yingying Qin, Zi-Jiang Chen, Shidou Zhao