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Dev Biol. 2005 Jul 1;283(1):40-57.

RNA transcript profiling during zygotic gene activation in the preimplantation mouse embryo.

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Department of Biology, University of Pennsylvania, 415 South University Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6018, USA.


Zygotic gene activation is essential for development beyond the 2-cell stage in the preimplantation mouse embryo. Based on alpha-amanitin-sensitive BrUTP incorporation, transcription initiates in the 1-cell embryo and a major reprogramming of gene expression driven by newly expressed genes is prominently observed during the 2-cell stage. Superimposed on genome activation is the development of a transcriptionally repressive state that is mediated at the level of chromatin structure. The identity of the genes that are expressed during the 1- and 2-cell stages, however, is poorly described, as are those genes involved in mediating the transcriptionally repressive state. Using the Affymetrix MOE430 mouse GeneChip set, we characterized the set of alpha-amanitin-sensitive genes expressed during the 1- and 2-cell stages, and we used Expression Analysis Systematic Explorer (EASE) and Ingenuity Pathway Analysis (IPA) to identify biological and molecular processes represented by these genes, as well as interactions among them. We find that although the 1-cell embryo is transcriptionally active, we did not detect any transcripts present on the MOE430 GeneChip set to be alpha-amanitin-sensitive. Thus, what the BrUTP incorporation represents remains elusive. About 17% of genes expressed in the 2-cell embryo are alpha-amanitin-sensitive. EASE analysis reveals that genes involved in ribosome biogenesis and assembly, protein synthesis, RNA metabolism and transcription are over-represented, suggesting that genome activation during 2-cell stage may not be as global and promiscuous as previously proposed. IPA implicated Myc and Hdac1 as candidate genes involved in genome activation and the development of the transcriptionally repressive state, respectively.

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