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PLoS One. 2013 Oct 16;8(10):e78199. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0078199. eCollection 2013.

Positive selection in bone morphogenetic protein 15 targets a natural mutation associated with primary ovarian insufficiency in human.

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INRA, UMR85 Physiologie de la Reproduction et des Comportements, Nouzilly, France ; CNRS, UMR7247 Physiologie de la Reproduction et des Comportements, Nouzilly, France ; Université François Rabelais de Tours, Tours, France ; IFCE, Nouzilly, France.


Bone Morphogenetic Protein 15 (BMP15) is a TGFβ-like oocyte-derived growth factor involved in ovarian folliculogenesis as a critical regulator of many granulosa cell processes. Alterations of the BMP15 gene have been found associated with different ovarian phenotypic effects depending on the species, from sterility to increased prolificacy in sheep, slight subfertility in mouse or associated with primary ovarian insufficiency (POI) in women. To investigate the evolving role of BMP15, a phylogenetic analysis of this particular TGFβ family member was performed. A maximum likelihood phylogenetic tree of several TGFβ/BMP family members expressed by the ovary showed that BMP15 has a very strong divergence and a rapid evolution compared to others. Moreover, among 24 mammalian species, we detected signals of positive selection in the hominidae clade corresponding to F146, L189 and Y235 residues in human BMP15. The biological importance of these residues was tested functionally after site directed-mutagenesis in a COV434 cells luciferase assay. By replacing the positively selected amino acid either by alanine or the most represented residue in other studied species, only L189A, Y235A and Y235C mutants showed a significant increase of BMP15 signaling when compared to wild type. Additionally, the Y235C mutant was more potent than wild type in inhibiting progesterone secretion of ovine granulosa cells in primary culture. Interestingly, the Y235C mutation was previously identified in association with POI in women. In conclusion, this study evidences that the BMP15 gene has evolved faster than other members of the TGFß family and was submitted to a positive selection pressure in the hominidae clade. Some residues under positive selection are of great importance for the normal function of the protein and thus for female fertility. Y235 represents a critical residue in the determination of BMP15 biological activity, thus indirectly confirming its role in the onset of POI in women.

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