Special Reviews

The Maternal-Zygotic Transition: Death and Birth of RNAs

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Science  20 Apr 2007:
Vol. 316, Issue 5823, pp. 406-407
DOI: 10.1126/science.1140693

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Maternal gene products drive early development when the newly formed embryo is transcriptionally inactive. During the maternal-zygotic transition, embryonic transcription is initiated and many maternal RNAs are degraded. Multiple mechanisms regulate the birth of zygotic RNAs and the death of maternal RNAs. Genome activation appears to rely in part on the sequestration of transcriptional repressors by the exponentially increasing amount of DNA during cleavage divisions. Maternal RNA degradation is induced by the binding of proteins and microRNAs to the 3′ untranslated region of target RNAs.

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