Curr Top Dev Biol.: auth.: group Vastenhouw

Curr Top Dev Biol. 2020;140:209-254. doi: 10.1016/bs.ctdb.2020.02.002. Epub 2020 Feb 26.

From mother to embryo: A molecular perspective on zygotic genome activation

Edlyn Wu 1Nadine L Vastenhouw 2Affiliations expand


In animals, the early embryo is mostly transcriptionally silent and development is fueled by maternally supplied mRNAs and proteins. These maternal products are important not only for survival, but also to gear up the zygote’s genome for activation. Over the last three decades, research with different model organisms and experimental approaches has identified molecular factors and proposed mechanisms for how the embryo transitions from being transcriptionally silent to transcriptionally competent. In this chapter, we discuss the molecular players that shape the molecular landscape of ZGA and provide insights into their mode of action in activating the transcription program in the developing embryo.

Keywords: Chromatin; Embryo development; Maternal-to-zygotic transition; Nuclear organization; Pioneer factors; Transcription factors; Transcriptional regulation; Zygotic genome activation.