Chromatin architecture transitions from zebrafish sperm through early embryogenesis


Chromatin architecture mapping in 3D formats has increased our understanding of how regulatory sequences and gene expression are connected and regulated in a genome. The 3D chromatin genome shows extensive remodeling during embryonic development, and although the cleavage-stage embryos of most species lack structure before zygotic genome activation (pre-ZGA), zebrafish has been reported to have structure. Here, we aimed to determine the chromosomal architecture in paternal/sperm zebrafish gamete cells to discern whether it either resembles or informs early pre-ZGA zebrafish embryo chromatin architecture. First, we assessed the higher-order architecture through advanced low-cell in situ Hi-C. The structure of zebrafish sperm, packaged by histones, lacks topological associated domains and instead displays “hinge-like” domains of ∼150 kb that repeat every 1–2 Mbs, suggesting a condensed repeating structure resembling mitotic chromosomes. The pre-ZGA embryos lacked chromosomal structure, in contrast to prior work, and only developed structure post-ZGA. During post-ZGA, we find chromatin architecture beginning to form at small contact domains of a median length of ∼90 kb. These small contact domains are established at enhancers, including super-enhancers, and chemical inhibition of Ep300a (p300) and Crebbpa (CBP) activity, lowering histone H3K27ac, but not transcription inhibition, diminishes these contacts. Together, this study reveals hinge-like domains in histone-packaged zebrafish sperm chromatin and determines that the initial formation of high-order chromatin architecture in zebrafish embryos occurs after ZGA primarily at enhancers bearing high H3K27ac.

Journal article

Wike, Candice L., Guo, Yixuan, Tan, Mengyao, et al.. "Chromatin architecture transitions from zebrafish sperm through early embryogenesis." Genome Research, 31, no. 6 (2021) Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press: 981-994.

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