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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Apr 1982; 79(7): 2352–2354.
PMCID: PMC346191

Transformation with DNA from 5-azacytidine-reactivated X chromosomes.

Abstract

It has been shown that 5-azacytidine (5-Aza-Cyd) can reactivate genes on the inactive human X chromosome. It is assumed that the 5-Aza-Cyd acts by causing demethylation of the DNA at specific sites, but this cannot be demonstrated directly without a cloned probe. Instead, we have utilized the technique of DNA-mediated transformation to show that the 5-Aza-Cyd-induced reactivation occurs at the DNA level. DNAs from various mouse-human or hamster-human hybrid cell lines, deficient for mouse or hamster hypoxanthine phosphoribosyltransferase (HPRT, EC 2.4.2.8) and varying in whether they contained either an active or inactive human X chromosome, were used in transformation of HPRT- cells. DNA from the active human X chromosome-containing cell lines yielded HPRT+ transformants, whereas DNA from the inactive X chromosome-containing cells lines did not. The inactive X chromosomal DNA was able to transform thymidine kinase-deficient mouse cells, indicating that the DNA solution was normal. These results confirm that inactivation of the X chromosome involves a DNA modification. Furthermore, DNAs from three cell lines with a 5-Aza-Cyd-reactivated X chromosome also transform HPRT- cells, demonstrating that the 5-Aza-Cyd has altered the DNA structure and supporting the idea that methylation plays a role in X chromosome inactivation.

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Selected References

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