Epigenome in Early Mammalian Development: Inheritance, Reprogramming and Establishment

Trends Cell Biol. 2018 Mar;28(3):237-253. doi: 10.1016/j.tcb.2017.10.008. Epub 2017 Dec 5.


Drastic epigenetic reprogramming takes place during preimplantation development, leading to the conversion of terminally differentiated gametes to a totipotent embryo. Deficiencies in remodeling of the epigenomes can cause severe developmental defects, including embryonic lethality. However, how chromatin modifications and chromatin organization are reprogrammed upon fertilization in mammals has long remained elusive. Here, we review recent progress in understanding how the epigenome is dynamically regulated during early mammalian development. The latest studies, including many from genome-wide perspectives, have revealed unusual principles of reprogramming for histone modifications, chromatin accessibility, and 3D chromatin architecture. These advances have shed light on the regulatory network controlling the earliest development and maternal-zygotic transition.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cellular Reprogramming / genetics*
  • DNA Methylation / genetics*
  • Embryo, Mammalian
  • Embryonic Development / genetics*
  • Epigenesis, Genetic*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Genome / genetics
  • Humans