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Dev Cell. 2004 Jun;6(6):781-90.

Maternal control of development at the midblastula transition and beyond: mutants from the zebrafish II.

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Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, University of Pennsylvania Medical School, 1211 BRBII/III, 421 Curie Boulevard, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


Many maternal factors in the oocyte persist in the embryo. They are required to initiate zygotic transcription but also function beyond this stage, where they interact with zygotic gene products during embryonic development. In a four-generation screen in the zebrafish, we identified 47 maternal-effect and five paternal-effect mutants that manifest their phenotypes at the time of, or after, zygotic genome activation. We propagated a subset of 13 mutations that cause developmental arrest at the midblastula transition, defects in cell viability, embryonic morphogenesis, and establishment of the embryonic body plan. This diverse group of mutants, many not previously observed in vertebrates, demonstrates a substantial maternal contribution to the "zygotic" period of embryogenesis and a surprising degree of paternal control. These mutants provide powerful tools to dissect the maternal and paternal control of vertebrate embryogenesis.

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