Recent large-scale mRNA sequencing has shown that introns are retained in 5-10% of mRNA, and these events are named intron retention (IR). IR has been recognized as a key mechanism in the regulation of gene expression. However, the role of this mechanism in female reproduction in mammals remains unclear. RNA terminal phosphate cyclase B (RTCB) is a RNA ligase; we found that RTCB conditional knockout mice have premature ovarian failure and that RTCB plays a crucial role in follicular development. RTCB regulated the splicing of transcripts related to DNA methylation and DNA damage repair. In addition, it regulated the resumption of oocyte meiosis by affecting CDK1 activation. Moreover, the loss of RTCB suppressed zygotic genome activation (ZGA) and decreased translation at the global level. In addition, Rtcb deletion resulted in the accumulation of maternal mRNAs containing unspliced introns and in a decline in the overall level of transcripts. As a result, the Rtcb−/− females were sterile. Our study highlights the important role of RTCB-regulated noncanonical alternative splicing in female reproduction.

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