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Nat Commun. 2015 Dec 18;6:10148. doi: 10.1038/ncomms10148.

Embryonic transcription is controlled by maternally defined chromatin state.

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Department of Molecular Developmental Biology, Radboud Institute for Molecular Life Sciences, Faculty of Science, Radboud University, PO Box 9101, 6500 HB Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
ARC Center of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology, The University of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia 6009, Australia.
The Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, Perth, Western Australia 6009, Australia.


Histone-modifying enzymes are required for cell identity and lineage commitment, however little is known about the regulatory origins of the epigenome during embryonic development. Here we generate a comprehensive set of epigenome reference maps, which we use to determine the extent to which maternal factors shape chromatin state in Xenopus embryos. Using α-amanitin to inhibit zygotic transcription, we find that the majority of H3K4me3- and H3K27me3-enriched regions form a maternally defined epigenetic regulatory space with an underlying logic of hypomethylated islands. This maternal regulatory space extends to a substantial proportion of neurula stage-activated promoters. In contrast, p300 recruitment to distal regulatory regions requires embryonic transcription at most loci. The results show that H3K4me3 and H3K27me3 are part of a regulatory space that exerts an extended maternal control well into post-gastrulation development, and highlight the combinatorial action of maternal and zygotic factors through proximal and distal regulatory sequences.

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