Establishing pluripotency in early development

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2015 Jun;1849(6):626-36. doi: 10.1016/j.bbagrm.2015.03.006. Epub 2015 Apr 7.


The earliest steps of embryonic development involve important changes in chromatin and transcription factor networks, which are orchestrated to establish pluripotent cells that will form the embryo. DNA methylation, histone modifications, the pluripotency regulatory network of transcription factors, maternal factors and newly translated proteins all contribute to these transitions in dynamic ways. Moreover, these dynamics are linked to the onset of zygotic transcription. We will review recent progress in our understanding of chromatin state and regulation of gene expression in the context of embryonic development in vertebrates, in particular mouse, Xenopus and zebrafish. We include work on mouse embryonic stem cells and highlight work that illustrates how early embryonic dynamics establish gene regulatory networks and the state of pluripotency.

Keywords: Chromatin; Embryo; Methylation; Pluripotency; Zygotic genome activation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromatin / genetics*
  • DNA Methylation / genetics*
  • Embryonic Development / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Gene Regulatory Networks
  • Mice
  • Pluripotent Stem Cells*
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Xenopus / genetics
  • Xenopus / growth & development
  • Zebrafish / genetics
  • Zebrafish / growth & development


  • Chromatin
  • Transcription Factors