Transcript clearance during the maternal-to-zygotic transition

Curr Opin Genet Dev. 2011 Aug;21(4):431-43. doi: 10.1016/j.gde.2011.03.003. Epub 2011 Apr 14.


In all animals, a key event in the transition from maternal control of development to control by products of the zygotic genome is the elimination of a significant fraction of the mRNAs loaded into the egg by the mother. Clearance of these maternal mRNAs is accomplished by two activities: the first is maternally encoded while the second requires zygotic transcription. Recent advances include identification of RNA-binding proteins that function as specificity factors to direct the maternal degradation machinery to its target mRNAs; small RNAs-most notably microRNAs-that function as components of the zygotically encoded activity; signaling pathways that trigger production and/or activation of the clearance mechanism in early embryos; and mechanisms for spatial control of transcript clearance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Humans
  • Maternal-Fetal Relations*
  • RNA Processing, Post-Transcriptional / genetics*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger, Stored / genetics*
  • RNA, Messenger, Stored / metabolism
  • Transcription, Genetic*
  • Zygote / cytology
  • Zygote / metabolism*


  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA, Messenger, Stored