Signaling-Mediated Control of Cell Division

Volume 59 of the series Results and Problems in Cell Differentiation pp 269-286


Cell Fate Maintenance and Reprogramming During the Oocyte-to-Embryo Transition

  • Christina FassnachtAffiliated withFriedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research
  • , Rafal CioskAffiliated withFriedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research Email author 

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This chapter reviews our current understanding of the mechanisms that regulate reprogramming during the oocyte-to-embryo transition (OET). There are two major events reshaping the transcriptome during OET. One is the clearance of maternal transcripts in the early embryo, extensively reviewed by others. The other event, which is the focus of this chapter, is the embryonic (or zygotic) genome activation (EGA). The mechanisms controlling EGA can be broadly divided into transcriptional and posttranscriptional. The former includes the regulation of the basal transcription machinery, the regulation by specific transcription factors and chromatin modifications. The latter is performed mostly via specific RNA-binding proteins (RBPs). Different animal models have been used to decipher the regulation of EGA. These models are often biased for the specific type of regulation, which is why we discuss the models ranging from invertebrates to mammals. Whether these biases stem from incomplete understanding of EGA in these models, or reflect evolutionarily distinct solutions to EGA regulation, is a key unresolved problem in developmental biology. As the mechanisms controlling developmental reprogramming can, and in some cases have been shown to, function in differentiated cells subjected to induced reprogramming, our understanding of EGA regulation may have implications for the efficiency of induced reprogramming and, thus, for regenerative medicine.