The aim of this study was to characterize the respective influences of the paternal and the maternal components on the timing of the first S-phase in the bovine zygote. In vitro-matured oocytes were fertilized in vitro with sperm conferring a high blastocyst rate (embryos of group 1) or a low blastocyst rate (embryos of group 2). Resulting zygotes were either allowed to develop in vitro to the blastocyst stage or exposed to 5′-bromo-2′-deoxyuridine in order to characterize the timing of their first S-phases. Timing of pronuclear formation was similar in the two groups, but the onset of S-phase and the first cleavage occurred earlier in group 1 than in group 2. We also showed that the length of the S-phase represented 30% of the first cell cycle in group 1 and 20% in group 2. Differences in times of onset of the first S-phase observed between embryo groups concerned both male and female pronuclei in a similar manner and were not dependent on the maternal component of the zygote. Our data demonstrated that the precocity of the onset of the first S-phase stemmed from a paternal control exerted during a transient period of the G1-phase.
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