Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 10790330
Dev. Biol. 2000 May;221(2):337-54
In the mouse embryo, the onset of zygotic transcription occurs at the end of the first cell cycle, upon completion of DNA replication. We show that the nonhistone chromosomal protein HMG-I, whose translocation into the pronuclei of one-cell embryos is linked to this first round of DNA synthesis, plays a critical role in the activation of zygotic transcription. Indeed, microinjection of purified HMG-I results in a higher nuclear accumulation of the protein and triggers an earlier activation of zygotic transcription, an effect which is abolished by the preincubation of the protein with a specific antibody directed against its AT-hook DNA-binding motifs. Significantly, microinjection of this antibody also prevents the normal onset of transcription in the embryo, suggesting that endogenous HMG-I is similarly involved in this process. Finally, microinjection of the exogenous protein modifies chromatin structure as measured by in situ accessibility to DNase I. We propose that general chromosomal architectural factors such as HMG-I can modulate the accessibility of chromatin to specialized regulatory factors, thereby promoting a transcriptionally competent state.