Numerous previous studies demonstrated that gene expression was influenced by histone modifications. However, little information is available about the relation of histone methylation with embryonic gene expression. Here, we examine the significance of histone H3 dimethyl-lysine 4 (H3K4me2) during mouse zygotic genome activation (ZGA) by inhibiting demethylation with the specific histone H3 lysine 4 demethylase inhibitor bisguanidine 1c (1c). A 1c treatment of one-cell embryos did not significantly affect the level of eIF-4C transcripts but did affect Oct4 levels by the two-cell stage. Furthermore, 1c treatment significantly inhibited cleavage of the embryos to the four-cell stage (from 82.7% to 18.2%), and the inhibitory effect was identified to be irreversible. These results suggest that histone methylation may be closely correlated with the formation of a transcriptionally repressive state during ZGA and that the repressive state actually dictates the appropriate pattern of gene expression required for further development.
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Vol. 44 • No. 3