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Dev Dyn. 2003 Nov;228(3):535-54.

Maternal factors in zebrafish development.

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Laboratory of Genetics, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin, USA.


All processes that occur before the activation of the zygotic genome at the midblastula transition are driven by maternal products, which are produced during oogenesis and stored in the mature oocyte. Upon egg activation and fertilization, these maternal factors initiate developmental cascades that carry out the embryonic developmental program. Even after the initiation of zygotic gene expression, perduring maternal products continue performing essential functions, either together with other maternal factors or through interactions with newly expressed zygotic products. Advances in zebrafish research have placed this organism in a unique position to contribute to a detailed understanding of the role of maternal factors in early vertebrate development. This review summarizes our knowledge on the processes involved in the production and redistribution of maternal factors during zebrafish oogenesis and early development, as well as our understanding of the function of these factors in axis formation, germ layer and germ cell specification, and other early embryonic processes.

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