Regulation of chromatin composition through post-translational modifications of histones contributes to transcriptional regulation and is essential for many cellular processes, including differentiation and development. KDM4A (JMJD2A) is a lysine demethylase with specificity towards di- and tri-methylated lysine 9 and lysine 36 of histone H3 (H3K9me2/me3 and H3K36me2/me3). Here, we report that Kdm4a as a maternal factor plays a key role in embryo survival and is vital for female fertility. Kdm4a-/- female mice ovulate normally with comparable fertilization but poor implantation rates, and cannot support healthy transplanted embryos to term. This is due to a role for Kdm4a in uterine function, where its loss causes reduced expression of key genes involved in ion transport, nutrient supply and cytokine signalling, which impact embryo survival. In addition, a significant proportion of Kdm4a-deficient oocytes displays a poor intrinsic ability to develop into blastocysts. These embryos cannot compete with healthy embryos for implantation in vivo, highlighting Kdm4a as a maternal effect gene. Thus, our study dissects an important dual role for maternal Kdm4a in determining faithful early embryonic development and the implantation process.
Keywords: Epigenetics; Female fertility; Histone demethylase; Maternal effect; Pre-implantation development; Transcription.
© 2017. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd.