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Semin Cell Dev Biol. 2003 Dec;14(6):313-8.

The Lyon and the LINE hypothesis.

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  • 1MRC Mammalian Genetics Unit, Harwell, Didcot, Oxfordshire OX11 ORD, UK.


X-chromosome inactivation (XCI) was first suggested as an explanation for the variegated phenotypes in mice heterozygous for X-linked colour genes or for X-autosome translocations involving autosomal coat colour genes. The effects seen in X-autosome translocations led to the suggestion of an X-inactivation centre (Xic) from which the inactivation was initiated, and this suggestion has led to major advances in understanding. Another feature of X-autosome translocations is incomplete inactivation of the attached autosomal segment, implying that the X-chromosome is enriched in features favouring inactivation. Interspersed repeat elements, and in particular long interspersed elements (LINEs), have been suggested as the relevant enriching features. Recent evidence concerning this hypothesis is discussed.

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