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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Genetic analysis of the mouse X inactivation center defines an 80-kb multifunction domain.

Dosage compensation in mammals occurs by X inactivation, a silencing mechanism regulated in cis by the X inactivation center (Xic). In response to developmental cues, the Xic orchestrates events of X inactivation, including chromosome counting and choice, initiation, spread, and establishment of silencing. It remains unclear what elements make up the Xic. We previously showed that the Xic is contained within a 450-kb sequence that includes Xist, an RNA-encoding gene required for X inactivation. To characterize the Xic further, we performed deletional analysis across the 450-kb region by yeast-artificial-chromosome fragmentation and phage P1 cloning. We tested Xic deletions for cis inactivation potential by using a transgene (Tg)-based approach and found that an 80-kb subregion also enacted somatic X inactivation on autosomes. Xist RNA coated the autosome but skipped the Xic Tg, raising the possibility that X chromosome domains escape inactivation by excluding Xist RNA binding. The autosomes became late-replicating and hypoacetylated on histone H4. A deletion of the Xist 5' sequence resulted in the loss of somatic X inactivation without abolishing Xist expression in undifferentiated cells. Thus, Xist expression in undifferentiated cells can be separated genetically from somatic silencing. Analysis of multiple Xic constructs and insertion sites indicated that long-range Xic effects can be generalized to different autosomes, thereby supporting the feasibility of a Tg-based approach for studying X inactivation.[1]


  1. Genetic analysis of the mouse X inactivation center defines an 80-kb multifunction domain. Lee, J.T., Lu, N., Han, Y. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. (1999) [Pubmed]
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