Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


ChromHeritance Report Summary

Project ID: 336460
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: Austria

Mid-Term Report Summary - CHROMHERITANCE (Chromosome inheritance from mammalian oocytes to embryos)

The most dramatic cell fate conversion occurs when highly differentiated gametes – egg and sperm – fuse to form a totipotent zygote with the potential to give rise to a new organism. Female germ cells or oocytes are converted through specialized cell division cycles, fertilization and epigenetic reprogramming into the single-cell embryo or zygote. Our innovative research program addresses fundamental questions about the mammalian oocyte-to-zygote transition (OZT). By combining chromosome and cell cycle research, epigenetics and genomics, we are obtaining novel insights into genome inheritance and chromatin organization. Using mouse mutagenesis and live-cell imaging, we have demonstrated that Rec8-cohesin establishes sister chromatid cohesion in fetal oocytes and is maintained without turnover for months in arrested oocytes. The inability of oocytes to regenerate cohesion by Rec8-cohesin is likely a contributing factor to maternal age-related chromosome missegregation and trisomic pregnancies. Furthermore, our new research in zygotes has a strong potential for discoveries since reprogramming to totipotency remains poorly understood. We have discovered that a surveillance mechanism monitors zygotic reprogramming and links its completion to entry into mitosis. A molecular understanding of the OZT has implications for induced pluripotent stem cell and artificial reproductive technologies.

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