Mitochondrial unfolded protein response gene Clpp is required to maintain ovarian follicular reserve during aging, for oocyte competence, and development of pre-implantation embryos

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© 2018 The Authors. Aging Cell published by the Anatomical Society and John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Caseinolytic peptidase P mediates degradation of unfolded mitochondrial proteins and activates mitochondrial unfolded protein response (mtUPR) to maintain protein homeostasis. Clpp −/− female mice generate a lower number of mature oocytes and two-cell embryos, and no blastocysts. Clpp −/− oocytes have smaller mitochondria, with lower aspect ratio (length/width), and decreased expression of genes that promote fusion. A 4-fold increase in atretic follicles at 3 months, and reduced number of primordial follicles at 6–12 months are observed in Clpp −/− ovaries. This is associated with upregulation of p-S6, p-S6K, p-4EBP1 and p-AKT473, p-mTOR2481 consistent with mTORC1 and mTORC2 activation, respectively, and Clpp −/− oocyte competence is partially rescued by mTOR inhibitor rapamycin. Our findings demonstrate that CLPP is required for oocyte and embryo development and oocyte mitochondrial function and dynamics. Absence of CLPP results in mTOR pathway activation, and accelerated depletion of ovarian follicular reserve.

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Aging Cell

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