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Nat Commun. 2019 Feb 11;10(1):691. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-08487-5.

A cell cycle-coordinated Polymerase II transcription compartment encompasses gene expression before global genome activation.

Author information

1
Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences, College of Medical and Dental Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, B15 2TT, UK.
2
School of Chemistry, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 2TT, UK.
3
Institut de Génétique et de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire, UMR7104, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Strasbourg, 67404, Illkirch, France.
4
Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, U964, Université de Strasbourg, Strasbourg, 67404, Illkirch, France.
5
Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology, Biomedical Engineering School, University of Technology, Sydney, NSW 2007, Australia.
6
Institute of Transdisciplinary Discoveries, Institute of Physiology, Medical School, University of Pecs, Pecs, H-7624, Hungary.
7
Institute of Clinical Science, College of Medical and Dental Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, B15 2TT, UK.
8
Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences, College of Medical and Dental Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, B15 2TT, UK. f.mueller@bham.ac.uk.

Abstract

Most metazoan embryos commence development with rapid, transcriptionally silent cell divisions, with genome activation delayed until the mid-blastula transition (MBT). However, a set of genes escapes global repression and gets activated before MBT. Here we describe the formation and the spatio-temporal dynamics of a pair of distinct transcription compartments, which encompasses the earliest gene expression in zebrafish. 4D imaging of pri-miR430 and zinc-finger-gene activities by a novel, native transcription imaging approach reveals transcriptional sharing of nuclear compartments, which are regulated by homologous chromosome organisation. These compartments carry the majority of nascent-RNAs and active Polymerase II, are chromatin-depleted and represent the main sites of detectable transcription before MBT. Transcription occurs during the S-phase of increasingly permissive cleavage cycles. It is proposed, that the transcription compartment is part of the regulatory architecture of embryonic nuclei and offers a transcriptionally competent environment to facilitate early escape from repression before global genome activation.

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