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Dev Biol. 2008 Jan 1;313(1):347-58. Epub 2007 Oct 28.

Stem-loop binding protein expressed in growing oocytes is required for accumulation of mRNAs encoding histones H3 and H4 and for early embryonic development in the mouse.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, McGill University, Montreal, Canada.


Growing oocytes accumulate mRNAs and proteins that support early embryogenesis. Among the most abundant of these maternal factors are the histones. Histone mRNA accumulation and translation are mainly restricted to S-phase in somatic cells, and the mechanism by which oocytes produce histones is unknown. In somatic cells, replication-dependent histone synthesis requires the stem-loop binding protein (SLBP). SLBP is expressed during S-phase, binds to the 3'-untranslated region of non-polyadenylated transcripts encoding the histones, and is required for their stabilization and translation. SLBP is expressed in oocytes of several species, suggesting a role in histone synthesis. To test this, we generated transgenic mice whose oocytes lack SLBP. mRNAs encoding histones H3 and H4 failed to accumulate in these oocytes. Unexpectedly, mRNAs encoding H2A and H2B were little affected. Embryos derived from SLBP-depleted oocytes reached the 2-cell stage, but most then became arrested. Histones H3 and H4, but not H2A or H2B, were substantially reduced in these embryos. The embryos also expressed high levels of gamma H2A.X. Injection of histones into SLBP-depleted embryos rescued them from developmental arrest. Thus, SLBP is an essential component of the mechanism by which growing oocytes of the mouse accumulate the histones that support early embryonic development.

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