Chromatin Structure and ATRX Function in Mouse Oocytes

  • Rabindranath De La Fuente
  • Claudia Baumann
  • Maria M. Viveiros
Part of the Results and Problems in Cell Differentiation book series (RESULTS, volume 55)


Differentiation of chromatin structure and function during oogenesis is essential to confer the mammalian oocyte with meiotic and developmental potential. Errors in chromosome segregation during female meiosis and subsequent transmission of an abnormal chromosome complement (aneuploidy) to the early conceptus are one of the leading causes of pregnancy loss in women. The chromatin remodeling protein ATRX (α-thalassemia mental retardation X-linked) has recently emerged as a critical factor involved in heterochromatin formation at mammalian centromeres during meiosis. In mammalian oocytes, ATRX binds to centromeric heterochromatin domains where it is required for accurate chromosome segregation. Loss of ATRX function induces abnormal meiotic chromosome morphology, reduces histone H3 phosphorylation, and promotes a high incidence of aneuploidy associated with severely reduced fertility. The presence of centromeric breaks during the transition to the first mitosis in the early embryo indicates that the role of ATRX in chromosome segregation is mediated through an epigenetic mechanism involving the maintenance of chromatin modifications associated with pericentric heterochromatin (PCH) formation and chromosome condensation. This is consistent with the existence of a potential molecular link between centromeric and PCH in the epigenetic control of centromere function and maintenance of chromosome stability in mammalian oocytes. Dissecting the molecular mechanisms of ATRX function during meiosis will have important clinical implications towards uncovering the epigenetic factors contributing to the onset of aneuploidy in the human oocyte.


Sister Chromatid Chromosome Segregation Germinal Vesicle Mouse Oocyte Spindle Assembly Checkpoint 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Research in the author’s laboratory is supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (NICHD): 2RO1-HDO42740 and the Georgia Cancer Coalition. We apologize to colleagues whose work could not be cited due to space limitations.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rabindranath De La Fuente
    • 1
  • Claudia Baumann
    • 1
  • Maria M. Viveiros
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, College of Veterinary MedicineUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA

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