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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Apr 11, 1995; 92(8): 3531–3535.

Xce haplotypes show modified methylation in a region of the active X chromosome lying 3' to Xist.


During early mammalian embryogenesis, one of the two X chromosomes in somatic cells of the female becomes inactivated through a process that is thought to depend on a unique initiator region, the X-chromosome inactivation center (Xic). The recently characterized Xist sequence (X-inactive-specific transcript) is thought to be a possible candidate for Xic. In mice a further genetic element, the X chromosome-controlling element (Xce), is also known to influence the choice of which of the two X chromosomes is inactivated. We report that a region of the mouse X chromosome lying 15 kb distal to Xist contains several sites that show hypermethylation specifically associated with the active X chromosome. Analysis of this region in various Xce strains has revealed a correlation between the strength of the Xce allele carried and the methylation status of this region. We propose that such a region could be involved in the initial stages of the inactivation process and in particular in the choice of which of the two X chromosomes present in a female cell will be inactivated.

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