Global Hypertranscription in the Mouse Embryonic Germline

Authors: Percharde M, Wong P, Ramalho-Santos M.

Reference: Cell Rep. 2017 Jun 6;19(10):1987-1996. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2017.05.036.

PMID: 28591571

Abstract: Primordial germ cells (PGCs) are vital for inheritance and evolution. Their transcriptional program has been extensively studied and is assumed to be well known. We report here a remarkable global upregulation of the transcriptome of mouse PGCs compared to somatic cells. Using cell-number-normalized genome-wide analyses, we uncover significant transcriptional amplification in PGCs, including mRNAs, rRNA, and transposable elements. Hypertranscription preserves tissue-specific gene expression patterns, correlates with cell size, and can still be detected in E15.5 male germ cells when proliferation has ceased. PGC hypertranscription occurs at the level of nascent transcription, is accompanied by increased translation rates, and is driven by Myc factors n-Myc and l-Myc (but not c-Myc) and by P-TEFb. This study provides a paradigm for transcriptional analyses during development and reveals a major global hyperactivity of the germline transcriptome.