Histone variant H3.3 is an essential maternal factor for oocyte reprogramming
Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
Mature oocyte cytoplasm can reprogram somatic cell nuclei to the pluripotent state through a series of sequential events including protein exchange between the donor nucleus and ooplasm, chromatin remodeling, and pluripotency gene reactivation. Maternal factors that are responsible for this reprogramming process remain largely unidentified. Here, we demonstrate that knockdown of histone variant H3.3 in mouse oocytes results in compromised reprogramming and down-regulation of key pluripotency genes; and this compromised reprogramming for developmental potentials and transcription of pluripotency genes can be rescued by injecting exogenous H3.3 mRNA, but not H3.2 mRNA, into oocytes in somatic cell nuclear transfer embryos. We show that maternal H3.3, and not H3.3 in the donor nucleus, is essential for successful reprogramming of somatic cell nucleus into the pluripotent state. Furthermore, H3.3 is involved in this reprogramming process by remodeling the donor nuclear chromatin through replacement of donor nucleus-derived H3 with de novo synthesized maternal H3.3 protein. Our study shows that H3.3 is a crucial maternal factor for oocyte reprogramming and provides a practical model to directly dissect the oocyte for its reprogramming capacity.