Zhou C. et al.
How histone modifications regulate changes in gene expression during preimplantation development in any species remains poorly understood. Using CUT\&Tag to overcome limiting amounts of biological material, we profiled two activating (H3K4me3 and H3K27ac) and two repressive (H3K9me3 and H3K27me3) marks in bovine oocytes, 2-, 4-, and 8-cell embryos, morula, blastocysts, inner cell mass, and trophectoderm. In oocytes, broad bivalent domains mark developmental genes, and prior to embryonic genome activation (EGA), H3K9me3 and H3K27me3 co-occupy gene bodies, suggesting a global mechanism for transcription repression. During EGA, chromatin accessibility is established before canonical H3K4me3 and H3K27ac signatures. Embryonic transcription is required for this remodeling, indicating that maternally provided products alone are insufficient for reprogramming. Last, H3K27me3 plays a major role in restriction of cellular potency, as blastocyst lineages are defined by differential polycomb repression and transcription factor activity. Notably, inferred regulators of EGA and blastocyst formation strongly resemble those described in humans, as opposed to mice. These similarities suggest that cattle are a better model than rodents to investigate the molecular basis of human preimplantation development.