During the very early stages of embryonic development chromosome replication occurs under rather challenging conditions, including a very short cell cycle, absence of transcription, a relaxed DNA damage response and, in certain animal species, a highly contracted S-phase. This raises the puzzling question of how the genome can be faithfully replicated in such a peculiar metabolic context. Recent studies have provided new insights into this issue, and unveiled that embryos are prone to accumulate genetic and genomic alterations, most likely due to restricted cellular functions, in particular reduced DNA synthesis quality control. These findings may explain the low rate of successful development in mammals and the occurrence of diseases, such as abnormal developmental features and cancer. In this review, we will discuss recent findings in this field and put forward perspectives to further study this fascinating question.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited