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    RAB GTPases constitute the largest family of small GTPases and are found in all eukaryotes. RAB GTPases regulate components of the endomembrane system, the nucleus and the plasma membrane, and are involved in intracellular actin/tubulin-dependent vesicle movement, membrane fusion and cell growth in mitosis. RAB GTPases play multiple critical roles during both female and male meiosis. This review summarizes the progress made in our understanding of the role of RAB GTPases in female and male meiosis in different species. We also discuss the potential relationship between RAB GTPases and oocyte/sperm quality, which may help in understanding the mechanisms underlying oogenesis and spermatogenesis and potential genetic causes of infertility. The PubMed database was searched for articles published between 1991 and 2020 using the following terms: 'RAB', 'RAB oocyte', 'RAB sperm' and 'RAB meiosis'. An analysis of 126 relevant articles indicated that RAB GTPases are present in all eukaryotes, and ten subfamilies (almost 70 members) are expressed in human cells. The roles of 25 RAB proteins and orthologues in female meiosis and 12 in male meiosis have been reported. RAB proteins are essential for the accurate continuity of genetic material, successful fertilization and the normal growth of offspring. Distinct and crucial functions of RAB GTPases in meiosis have been reported. In oocytes, RAB GTPases are involved in spindle organization, kinetochore-microtubule attachment, chromosome alignment, actin filament-mediated spindle migration, cytokinesis, cell cycle and oocyte-embryo transition. RAB GTPases function in mitochondrial processes and Golgi-mediated vesicular transport during female meiosis, and are critical for cortical granule transport during fertilization and oocyte-embryo transition. In sperm, RAB GTPases are vital for cytoskeletal organization and successful cytokinesis, and are associated with Golgi-mediated acrosome formation, membrane trafficking and morphological changes of sperm cells, as well as the exocytosis-related acrosome reaction and zona reaction during fertilization. Abnormal expression of RAB GTPases disrupts intracellular systems, which may induce diverse diseases. The roles of RAB proteins in female and male reproductive systems, thus, need to be considered. The mechanisms underlying the function of RAB GTPases and the binding specificity of their effectors during oogenesis, spermatogenesis and fertilization remain to be studied. This review should contribute to our understanding of the molecular mechanisms of oogenesis and spermatogenesis and potential genetic causes of infertility. © The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email:


    Meng-Meng Shan, Shao-Chen Sun. The multiple roles of RAB GTPases in female and male meiosis. Human reproduction update. 2021 Oct 18;27(6):1013-1029

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    PMID: 34227671

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