The maternal-to-zygotic transition (MZT) is a key developmental process in metazoan embryos that involves the activation of zygotic transcription (ZGA) and degradation of maternal transcripts. Researchers at the IMBA, Vienna BioCenter employed metabolic mRNA sequencing (SLAMseq) to deconvolute the compound embryonic transcriptome in zebrafish. While mitochondrial zygotic transcripts prevail prior to MZT, the researchers uncovered the spurious transcription of hundreds of short and intron-poor genes as early as the 2-cell stage. Upon ZGA, most zygotic transcripts originate from thousands of maternal-zygotic (MZ) genes that are transcribed at rates comparable to those of hundreds of purely zygotic genes and replenish maternal mRNAs at distinct timescales. Rapid replacement of MZ transcripts involves transcript decay features unrelated to major maternal degradation pathways and promotes de novo synthesis of the core gene expression machinery by increasing poly(A)-tail length and translation efficiency. SLAMseq hence provides insights into the timescales, molecular features, and regulation of MZT during zebrafish embryogenesis.
Metabolic RNA sequencing resolves the kinetics of maternal and zygotic gene expression during early zebrafish embryogenesis
Bhat P, Cabrera-Quio LE, Herzog VA, Fasching N, Pauli A, Ameres SL. (2023) SLAMseq resolves the kinetics of maternal and zygotic gene expression during early zebrafish embryogenesis. Cell Rep 42(2); 112070. [article]