Maternal expression of the JMJD2A/KDM4A histone demethylase is critical for pre-implantation development – University of Copenhagen

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23 August 2017

Maternal expression of the JMJD2A/KDM4A histone demethylase is critical for pre-implantation development

Sankar, Aditya, Susanne M. Kooistra, Javier M. Gonzalez, Claes Ohlsson, Matti Poutanen & Kristian Helin (2017). Maternal expression of the JMJD2A/KDM4A histone demethylase is critical for pre-implantation development. Development, doi: 10.1242/dev.155473.

Abstract

Regulation of chromatin composition through post-translational modifications of histones contributes to transcriptional regulation and is essential for many cellular processes, including differentiation and development. JMJD2A/KDM4A is a lysine demethylase with specificity towards di- and tri-methylated lysine 9 and lysine 36 of histone H3 (H3K9me2/me3 and H3K36me2/me3). Here, we report that Kdm4a as a maternal factor plays a key role in embryo survival and is vital for female fertility. Kdm4a−/- female mice ovulate normally with comparable fertilization but poor implantation rates, and cannot support healthy transplanted embryos to term. This is due to a role for Kdm4a in uterine function, where its loss causes reduced expression of key genes involved in ion transport, nutrient supply and cytokine signalling, that impact embryo survival. In addition, a significant proportion of Kdm4a deficient oocytes displays a poor intrinsic ability to develop into blastocysts. These embryos cannot compete with healthy embryos for implantation in vivo, highlighting Kdm4a as a maternal effect gene. Thus, our study dissects an important dual role for maternal Kdm4a in determining faithful early embryonic development and the implantation process.