The zinc-finger protein Zelda is a key activator of the early zygotic genome in Drosophila

Hsiao Lan Liang, Chung Yi Nien, Hsiao Yun Liu, Mark M. Metzstein, Nikolai Kirov, Christine Rushlow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

In all animals, the initial events of embryogenesis are controlled by maternal gene products that are deposited into the developing oocyte. At some point after fertilization, control of embryogenesis is transferred to the zygotic genome in a process called the maternal-to-zygotic transition. During this time, many maternal RNAs are degraded and transcription of zygotic RNAs ensues. There is a long-standing question as to which factors regulate these events. The recent findings that microRNAs and Smaug mediate maternal transcript degradation have shed new light on this aspect of the problem. However, the transcription factor(s) that activate the zygotic genome remain elusive. The discovery that many of the early transcribed genes in Drosophila share a cis-regulatory heptamer motif, CAGGTAG and related sequences, collectively referred to as TAGteam sites raised the possibility that a dedicated transcription factor could interact with these sites to activate transcription. Here we report that the zinc-finger protein Zelda (Zld; Zinc-finger early Drosophila activator) binds specifically to these sites and is capable of activating transcription in transient transfection assays. Mutant embryos lacking zld are defective in cellular blastoderm formation, and fail to activate many genes essential for cellularization, sex determination and pattern formation. Global expression profiling confirmed that Zld has an important role in the activation of the early zygotic genome and suggests that Zld may also regulate maternal RNA degradation during the maternal-to-zygotic transition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)400-403
Number of pages4
JournalNature
Volume456
Issue number7220
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 20 2008

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Zinc Fingers
Drosophila
Mothers
Genome
Proteins
Embryonic Development
Transcription Factors
RNA
Blastoderm
Essential Genes
RNA Stability
MicroRNAs
Fertilization
Genes
Oocytes
Transfection
Embryonic Structures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

Cite this

Liang, H. L., Nien, C. Y., Liu, H. Y., Metzstein, M. M., Kirov, N., & Rushlow, C. (2008). The zinc-finger protein Zelda is a key activator of the early zygotic genome in Drosophila. Nature, 456(7220), 400-403. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature07388

The zinc-finger protein Zelda is a key activator of the early zygotic genome in Drosophila. / Liang, Hsiao Lan; Nien, Chung Yi; Liu, Hsiao Yun; Metzstein, Mark M.; Kirov, Nikolai; Rushlow, Christine.

In: Nature, Vol. 456, No. 7220, 20.11.2008, p. 400-403.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Liang, HL, Nien, CY, Liu, HY, Metzstein, MM, Kirov, N & Rushlow, C 2008, 'The zinc-finger protein Zelda is a key activator of the early zygotic genome in Drosophila', Nature, vol. 456, no. 7220, pp. 400-403. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature07388
Liang, Hsiao Lan ; Nien, Chung Yi ; Liu, Hsiao Yun ; Metzstein, Mark M. ; Kirov, Nikolai ; Rushlow, Christine. / The zinc-finger protein Zelda is a key activator of the early zygotic genome in Drosophila. In: Nature. 2008 ; Vol. 456, No. 7220. pp. 400-403.
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