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Science. 2007 Feb 23;315(5815):1141-3.

Gene body-specific methylation on the active X chromosome.

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  • 1Center for Human Genetic Research and Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, 185 Cambridge Street, Boston, MA 02114, USA.


Differential DNA methylation is important for the epigenetic regulation of gene expression. Allele-specific methylation of the inactive X chromosome has been demonstrated at promoter CpG islands, but the overall pattern of methylation on the active X(Xa) and inactive X (Xi) chromosomes is unknown. We performed allele-specific analysis of more than 1000 informative loci along the human X chromosome. The Xa displays more than two times as much allele-specific methylation as Xi. This methylation is concentrated at gene bodies, affecting multiple neighboring CpGs. Before X inactivation, all of these Xa gene body-methylated sites are biallelically methylated. Thus, a bipartite methylation-demethylation program results in Xa-specific hypomethylation at gene promoters and hypermethylation at gene bodies. These results suggest a relationship between global methylation and expression potentiality.

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