The germ line provides the cellular link between generations of multicellular organisms, its cells entering the meiotic cell cycle only once each generation. However, the mechanisms governing this initiation of meiosis remain poorly understood. Here, we examined cells undergoing meiotic initiation in mice, and we found that initiation involves the dramatic upregulation of a transcriptional network of thousands of genes whose expression is not limited to meiosis. This broad gene expression program is directly upregulated by STRA8, encoded by a germ cell-specific gene required for meiotic initiation. STRA8 binds its own promoter and those of thousands of other genes, including meiotic prophase genes, factors mediating DNA replication and the G1-S cell-cycle transition, and genes that promote the lengthy prophase unique to meiosis I. We conclude that, in mice, the robust amplification of this extraordinarily broad transcription program by a common factor triggers initiation of meiosis.
Keywords: Stra8; cell cycle; chromosomes; developmental biology; gene expression; germ cells; meiosis; mouse; transcription.
© 2019, Kojima et al.