BMP15 mutations associated with primary ovarian insufficiency cause a defective production of bioactive protein

Raffaella Rossetti, Elisa Di Pasquale, Anna Marozzi, Silvia Bione, Daniela Toniolo, Paola Grammatico, Lawrence M. Nelson, Paolo Beck-Peccoz, Luca Persani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Bone morphogenetic protein-15 (BMP15) is selectively synthesized by oocytes as a pre-proprotein and is considered an ovarian follicle organizer whose adequate function is critical for female fertility. Missense mutations were reported in primary ovarian insufficiency (POI) but their biological impact remained unexplored. Here, screening of 300 unrelated idiopathic overt POI women with primary or secondary amenorrhea (SA) led to the identification of six heterozygous BMP15 variations in 29 of them. All alterations are nonconservative and include one insertion of three nucleotides (p.L262-L263insL) and five missense substitutions. Except for the p.S5R located in the signal sequence, the other variants (p.R68W, p.R138H, p.L148P, and p.A180T) localize in the proregion, which is essential for the processing and secretion of bioactive dimers. The mutations p.R68W, p.L148P, and the novel p.R138H lead to marked reductions of mature protein production. Their biological effects, evaluated by a novel luciferase- reporter assay in a human granulosa cell (GC) line, were significantly reduced. Cotransfection experiments of defective mutants with equal amounts of wild-type BMP15 cDNA, thus reproducing the heterozygous state seen in patients, did not generate a complete recovery of wild-type activity. No or minor deleterious effects were detected for the variants p.L262-L263insL, p.A180T, or p.S5R. In conclusion, heterozygous BMP15 mutations associated with the early onset of overt POI lead to defective secretion of bioactive dimers. These findings support the concept that an adequate amount of BMP15 secreted in the follicular fluid is critical for female fertility. We propose to consider the screening of BMP15 mutations among the analyses for the prediction of POI risk.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)804-810
Number of pages7
JournalHuman Mutation
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2009


  • BMP15
  • Female fertility
  • Folliculogenesis
  • Ovary
  • POI
  • Premature ovarian failure
  • Primary ovarian insufficiency
  • X chromosome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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