About the Workshop
Life for all sexually reproducing species commences with the generation of a totipotent embryo with a unique transcriptional program. This process requires the gradual handover of developmental control from maternally provided mRNAs and proteins to products of the zygotic genome. This maternal-to-zygotic transition (MZT) is accompanied by epigenetic reprogramming, 3D chromatin reorganization, changes in chromatin accessibility, dynamic regulation of non-coding and coding RNA, as well as transcriptional activation of genes and transposons from a repressed state. Pioneer transcription factors required for zygotic genome activation (ZGA) and developmental progression beyond the MZT have been identified in Drosophila but essential regulators of genome awakening remain unidentified in most organisms. The revolution in single-cell approaches may close this gap and will facilitate answering mechanistic questions in early embryos across species. Therefore, the major objective of this meeting is to advance the mechanistic understanding of ZGA and the MZT. To achieve this, this EMBO Workshop will bring together both established scientists and young researchers working on diverse organisms and in different disciplines, ranging from development and transcription to structural biology, with a shared interest in the earliest stages of life.