YTHDC2 control of gametogenesis requires helicase activity but not m6A binding

Yuhki Saito, Ben R. Hawley, M. Rhyan Puno, Shreya N. Sarathy, Christopher D. Lima, Samie R. Jaffrey, Robert B. Darnell, Scott Keeney, Devanshi Jain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Mechanisms regulating meiotic progression in mammals are poorly understood. The N6-methyladenosine (m6A) reader and 3'→5' RNA helicase YTHDC2 switches cells from mitotic to meiotic gene expression programs and is essential for meiotic entry, but how this critical cell fate change is accomplished is unknown. Here, we provide insight into its mechanism and implicate YTHDC2 in having a broad role in gene regulation during multiple meiotic stages. Unexpectedly, mutation of the m6A-binding pocket of YTHDC2 had no detectable effect on gametogenesis and mouse fertility, suggesting that YTHDC2 function is m6A-independent. Supporting this conclusion, CLIP data defined YTHDC2-binding sites on mRNA as U-rich and UG-rich motif-containing regions within 3' UTRs and coding sequences, distinct from the sites that contain m6A during spermatogenesis. Complete loss of YTHDC2 during meiotic entry did not substantially alter translation of its mRNA binding targets in whole-testis ribosome profiling assays but did modestly affect their steady-state levels. Mutation of the ATPase motif in the helicase domain of YTHDC2 did not affect meiotic entry, but it blocked meiotic prophase I progression, causing sterility. Our findings inform a model in which YTHDC2 binds transcripts independent of m6A status and regulates gene expression during multiple stages of meiosis by distinct mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)180-194
Number of pages15
JournalGenes and Development
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Feb 1 2022
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Genetics
  • Developmental Biology


  • Meiosis
  • N-methyladenosine
  • RNA helicase
  • RNA-binding proteins
  • Spermatogenesis
  • Ythdc2


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