Oocytes are arrested for long periods of time in the prophase of the first meiotic division (prophase I). As chromosome condensation poses significant constraints to gene expression, the mechanisms regulating transcriptional activity in the prophase I-arrested oocyte are still not entirely understood. We hypothesized that gene expression during the prophase I arrest is primarily epigenetically regulated. Here we comprehensively define the Drosophila female germ line epigenome throughout oogenesis and show that the oocyte has a unique, dynamic and remarkably diversified epigenome characterized by the presence of both euchromatic and heterochromatic marks. We observed that the perturbation of the oocyte's epigenome in early oogenesis, through depletion of the dKDM5 histone demethylase, results in the temporal deregulation of meiotic transcription and affects female fertility. Taken together, our results indicate that the early programming of the oocyte epigenome primes meiotic chromatin for subsequent functions in late prophase I.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- General Chemistry
- General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
- General Physics and Astronomy