In mammals, their proper development during the early cleavage stages strongly relies on the gene products newly transcribed by zygotic genome activation (ZGA). Long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) have been characterized as key regulators of the ZGA process in mice and human. However, the ZGA stage has not yet been identified and epigenetic regulations of the ZGA process remain largely unknown in goats. Here, we show that ZGA occurred at the 8-cell stage in goats. During ZGA, trimethylation of H3K9 was dynamically changed but maintained strong staining in development arrested embryos. Using single-cell RNA sequencing, we identified 800 mRNAs and 250 lncRNAs as candidates of key molecules in goat preimplantation embryos. These mRNAs and lncRNAs were differentially expressed from 4- to 8-cell stage embryos and were strongly enriched in terms of retinoic acid receptor signaling pathway as well as signaling pathway regulating pluripotency of stem cells. In particular, we found that microinjection of siRNA against lnc 137 caused development arrest. Our results are consistent with the notion that lncRNAs play vital roles during ZGA, and the data presented here provide an excellent source for further ZGA lncRNA studies.
We identified 800 mRNAs and 250 long noncoding RNAs as candidates of key molecules in goat zygotic genome activation and found that lnc 137 is essential for goat early development.