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Am J Hum Genet. Dec 1997; 61(6): 1353–1361.
PMCID: PMC1716095

Skewed X-chromosome inactivation is common in fetuses or newborns associated with confined placental mosaicism.


The inactivation of one X chromosome in females is normally random with regard to which X is inactivated. However, exclusive or almost-exclusive inactivation of one X may be observed in association with some X-autosomal rearrangements, mutations of the XIST gene, certain X-linked diseases, and MZ twinning. In the present study, a methylation difference near a polymorphism in the X-linked androgen-receptor gene was used to investigate the possibility that nonrandom X inactivation is increases in fetuses and newborns that are associated with confined placental mosaicism (CPM) involving an autosomal trisomy. Extreme skewing was observed in 7 (58%) of 12 cases with a meiotic origin of the trisomy, but in none of 10 cases examined with a somatic origin of the trisomy, and in only 1 (4%) of 27 control adult females. In addition, an extremely skewed X-inactivation pattern was observed in 3 of 10 informative cases of female uniparental disomy (UPD) of chromosome 15. This may reflect the fact that a proportion of UPD cases arise by "rescue" of a chromosomally abnormal conceptus and are therefore associated with CPM. A skewed pattern of X inactivation in CPM cases is hypothesized to result from a reduction in the size of the early-embryonic cell pool, because of either poor early growth or subsequent selection against the trisomic cells. Since approximately 2% of pregnancies detected by chorionic villus sampling are associated with CPM, this is likely a significant contributor to both skewed X inactivation observed in the newborn population and the expression of recessive X-linked diseases in females.

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Selected References

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