How can zygotes segregate entire parental genomes into distinct blastomeres? The zygote metaphase revisited

Bioessays. 2017 Apr;39(4). doi: 10.1002/bies.201600226. Epub 2017 Mar 1.


Zygote cytokinesis produces two symmetric blastomeres, which contain one copy of each parental genome. Contrary to this dogma, we recently discovered that mammalian zygotes can spontaneously segregate entire parental genomes into different blastomeres and coined this novel form of genome segregation heterogoneic division. The molecular mechanisms underlying the emergence of blastomeres with different parental genomes during the first mitotic cycle remain to be elucidated. Here, we speculate on which parental genome asymmetries could provide a mechanistic foundation for these remarkable zygote divisions. In reviewing the field and considering our findings, we revisit the architecture of the first zygotic metaphase by invoking asymmetric interactions between the mitotic spindle and the parental kinetochores. We also speculate on how asynchronous parental cell cycles can be a source of heterogoneic zygote divisions through the formation of parental genome private spindles.

Keywords: genome instability; parental genome segregation; pre-implantation development; spindle assembly; zygote.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blastomeres*
  • Chromosome Segregation*
  • Genome
  • Humans
  • Mitosis*
  • Spindle Apparatus
  • Zygote / physiology*