Both DICER and DROSHA are RNase III enzymes involved in the biogenesis of small noncoding RNAs. DROSHA cleaves the stem-loop portion of the primary miRNAs and produces precursor miRNAs in the nucleus, whereas DICER processes double-stranded RNA precursors into mature miRNAs and endogenous small interference RNAs in the cytoplasm. Selective inactivation of Dicer in growing oocytes of primary follicles leads to female infertility due to oocyte spindle defects. However, it remains unknown if oocyte Dicer expression in the fetal ovary is required for proper follicular development in the postnatal ovary. Moreover, the role of Drosha in folliculogenesis has never been investigated. Here, we report that conditional knockout of Dicer in prophase I oocytes of the fetal ovary led to compromised folliculogenesis, premature ovarian failure, and female infertility in the adult ovary, whereas selective inactivation of Drosha in oocytes of either the fetal or the developing ovary had no effects on normal folliculogenesis and female fertility in adulthood. Our data indicate that oocyte DICER expression in the fetal ovary is required, and oocyte DROSHA is dispensable, for postnatal follicular development and female fertility in adulthood.
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Vol. 91 • No. 2