Epigenetic modifications and reprogramming in paternal pronucleus: sperm, preimplantation embryo, and beyond.

Pronuclear/zygotic stage is the very first stage of life. In this period, paternal pronucleus undergoes massive chromatin remodeling called “paternal reprogramming” including protamine-histone replacement and subsequent acquisition of epigenetic modifications. Although these consecutive events are required for the initiation of maternal-zygotic transition, the precise role of paternal reprogramming and its effect on subsequent embryonic development has been largely unknown to date. Recently, various new techniques, especially next-generation sequencing (NGS) and RNAi microinjection contribute to unveil the epigenetic transition from both paternal and maternal to early preimplantation embryos, suggesting not only the simple transcriptional regulation by transcription factors but also dynamic structural alteration of chromatin to initiate the wave of zygotic gene transcription. This review summarizes such recent progress for understanding the epigenetic transition in sperm and preimplantation embryos, and further argue about its transgenerational effect.

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