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Science 316 (5823): 407-408

Copyright © 2007 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Regulation of the Oocyte-to-Zygote Transition

Michael L. Stitzel1,2, and Geraldine Seydoux1

Abstract: Oocytes, the female germ cells, contain all the messenger RNAs necessary to start a new life but typically wait until fertilization to begin development. The transition from oocyte to fertilized egg (zygote) involves many changes, including protein synthesis, protein and RNA degradation, and organelle remodeling. These changes occur concurrently with the meiotic divisions that produce the haploid maternal genome. Accumulating evidence indicates that the cell-cycle regulators that control the meiotic divisions also regulate the many changes that accompany the oocyte-to-zygote transition. We suggest that the meiotic machinery functions as an internal pacemaker that propels oocytes toward embryogenesis.

1 Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, 725 North Wolfe Street, PCTB 706, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.
2 Predoctoral Training Program in Human Genetics and Molecular Biology, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, 725 North Wolfe Street, PCTB 706, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.

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