Transcriptional activation of specific genes is initiated after fertilization by the interaction of specific transcription factors with its cognate sequences in the chromatin context, thereby leading to a concerted and coordinated program which determines early development. Remodeling of the sperm chromatin after fertilization is a fundamental event for transcriptional activation and expression of the paternally inherited genome. The transitions in chromosomal proteins, as well as the mechanisms that participate in these transitions, have been investigated only to a limited extent as compared to the signal transduction patterns that govern egg activation or the dynamics and structural changes accompanying sperm nuclear membrane dissociation-association following insemination. In this review, we will discuss the remodeling of sperm chromatin that follows fertilization. We will emphasize the transitions of chromosomal proteins, as well as the post-translational modifications associated with these transitions. The molecular mechanisms that may be participating in these events will also be analyzed. We will further discuss the mechanisms that govern chromatin remodeling and the role of specific transcription factors in the control of the transcriptional program during sea urchin early development.
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