Restarting life: fertilization and the transition from meiosis to mitosis

Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2013 Sep;14(9):549-62. doi: 10.1038/nrm3643. Epub 2013 Aug 14.


Fertilization triggers a complex cellular programme that transforms two highly specialized meiotic germ cells, the oocyte and the sperm, into a totipotent mitotic embryo. Linkages between sister chromatids are remodelled to support the switch from reductional meiotic to equational mitotic divisions; the centrosome, which is absent from the egg, is reintroduced; cell division shifts from being extremely asymmetric to symmetric; genomic imprinting is selectively erased and re-established; and protein expression shifts from translational control to transcriptional control. Recent work has started to reveal how this remarkable transition from meiosis to mitosis is achieved.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Embryonic Development / genetics
  • Embryonic Development / physiology*
  • Female
  • Fertilization / genetics
  • Fertilization / physiology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meiosis / genetics
  • Meiosis / physiology*
  • Mitosis / genetics
  • Mitosis / physiology*
  • Ovum / cytology
  • Ovum / metabolism
  • Spermatozoa / cytology
  • Spermatozoa / metabolism