Mir-290 through mir-295 (mir-290-295) is a mammalian-specific microRNA (miRNA) cluster that, in mice, is expressed specifically in early embryos and embryonic germ cells. Here, we show that mir-290-295 plays important roles in embryonic development as indicated by the partially penetrant lethality of mutant embryos. In addition, we show that in surviving mir-290-295-deficient embryos, female but not male fertility is compromised. This impairment in fertility arises from a defect in migrating primordial germ cells and occurs equally in male and female mutant animals. Male mir-290-295(-/-) mice, due to the extended proliferative lifespan of their germ cells, are able to recover from this initial germ cell loss and are fertile. Female mir-290-295(-/-) mice are unable to recover and are sterile, due to premature ovarian failure.
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