Heterochromatin establishment in the context of genome-wide epigenetic reprogramming

Trends Genet. 2011 May;27(5):177-85. doi: 10.1016/j.tig.2011.02.002. Epub 2011 Apr 15.


Heterochromatin at pericentric satellites, characterized by a specific chromatin signature and chromocenter organization, is of paramount importance for genome function. Re-establishment of this organization after fertilization takes place in the context of genome-wide epigenetic reprogramming. We review how the asymmetry in histone variants and post-translational modifications between paternal and maternal genomes and their respective pericentric heterochromatin domains evolve during early cleavage stages in mouse. We draw a parallel between these data and the burst of pericentric satellite transcription that occurs concomitantly with the dynamic reorganization of the pericentric domains into chromocenters in two-cell stage embryos. Based on this new angle, we propose that a crucial developmental transition at the two-cell stage allows chromocenter formation by involving non-coding satellite transcripts to trigger specific chromatin changes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cellular Reprogramming*
  • Epigenesis, Genetic*
  • Gametogenesis
  • Genetic Variation
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Heterochromatin*
  • Humans


  • Heterochromatin