A Mutation in the Nuclear Pore Complex Gene Tmem48 Causes Gametogenesis Defects in Skeletal Fusions with Sterility (sks) Mice.

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J Biol Chem 2013 Nov 1; 288(44):31830-41.




Skeletal fusions with sterility (sks) is an autosomal recessive mutation of mouse that results in male and female sterility because of defects in gametogenesis. The mutants also have skeletal malformations with fused vertebrae and ribs. We examined testicular phenotypes of sks/sks mice to investigate the defects in spermatogenesis. Histological and immunocytochemical analyses and expression analyses of the marker genes demonstrated that spermatogenesis is arrested at mid to late pachytene stage of meiotic prophase with defective synapsis of the homologous chromosomes. Next, we determined the precise chromosomal localization of the sks locus on a 0.3-Mb region of mouse chromosome 4 by linkage analysis. By sequencing the positional candidate genes in this region and whole exome sequencing, we found a GG to TT nucleotide substitution in exon 6 of the Tmem48 gene that encodes a putative transmembrane protein with six transmembrane domains. The nucleotide substitution causes aberrant splicing, which deletes exon 6 of the Tmem48 transcript. Specific expression of TMEM48 was observed in germ cells of males and females. Furthermore, the phenotypes of the sks mutant were completely rescued by the transgenesis of a genomic fragment containing the wild-type Tmem48 gene. These findings indicate that the Tmem48 mutation is responsible for the gametogenesis defects and skeletal malformations in the sks mice. The TMEM48 protein is a nuclear membrane protein comprising the nuclear pore complex; its exact function in the nuclear pore complex is still unknown. Our finding suggested that the nuclear pore complex plays an important role in mammalian gametogenesis and skeletal development. J Biol Chem 2013 Nov 1; 288(44):31830-41.