The oocyte-to-embryo transition (OET) arguably initiates with formation of a primordial follicle and culminates with reprogramming of gene expression during the course of zygotic genome activation. This transition results in converting a highly differentiated cell, i.e. oocyte, to undifferentiated cells, i.e. initial blastomeres of a preimplantation embryo. A plethora of changes occur during the OET and include, but are not limited to, changes in transcription, chromatin structure, and protein synthesis; accumulation of macromolecules and organelles that will comprise the oocyte's maternal contribution to the early embryo; sequential acquisition of meiotic and developmental competence to name but a few. This review will focus on transcriptional and post-transcriptional changes that occur during OET in mouse because such changes are likely the major driving force for OET. We often take a historical and personal perspective, and highlight how advances in experimental methods often catalyzed conceptual advances in understanding the molecular bases for OET. We also point out questions that remain open and therefore represent topics of interest for future investigation.
We review, often with a historical perspective, transcriptional and post-transcriptional changes that underlie the oocyte-to-embryo transition in mouse.