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Cell. 2008 Oct 3;135(1):149-60. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2008.07.040.

Global transcriptional repression in C. elegans germline precursors by regulated sequestration of TAF-4.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Biology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX 75390, USA.


In C. elegans, four asymmetric divisions, beginning with the zygote (P0), generate transcriptionally repressed germline blastomeres (P1-P4) and somatic sisters that become transcriptionally active. The protein PIE-1 represses transcription in the later germline blastomeres but not in the earlier germline blastomeres P0 and P1. We show here that OMA-1 and OMA-2, previously shown to regulate oocyte maturation, repress transcription in P0 and P1 by binding to and sequestering in the cytoplasm TAF-4, a component critical for assembly of TFIID and the pol II preinitiation complex. OMA-1/2 binding to TAF-4 is developmentally regulated, requiring phosphorylation by the DYRK kinase MBK-2, which is activated at meiosis II after fertilization. OMA-1/2 are normally degraded after the first mitosis, but ectopic expression of wild-type OMA-1 is sufficient to repress transcription in both somatic and later germline blastomeres. We propose that phosphorylation by MBK-2 serves as a developmental switch, converting OMA-1/2 from oocyte to embryo regulators.

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