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Cell. 1999 Oct 1;99(1):47-57.

Targeted mutagenesis of Tsix leads to nonrandom X inactivation.

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Department of Molecular Biology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston 02115, USA.


During X inactivation, mammalian female cells make the selection of one active and one inactive X chromosome. X chromosome choice occurs randomly and results in Xist upregulation on the inactive X. We have hypothesized that the antisense gene, Tsix, controls Xist expression. Here, we create a targeted deletion of Tsix in female and male mouse cells. Despite a deficiency of Tsix RNA, X chromosome counting remains intact: female cells still inactivate one X, while male cells block X inactivation. However, heterozygous female cells show skewed Xist expression and primary nonrandom inactivation of the mutant X. The ability of the mutant X to block Xist accumulation is compromised. We conclude that Tsix regulates Xist in cis and determines X chromosome choice without affecting silencing. Therefore, counting, choice, and silencing are genetically separable. Contrasting effects in XX and XY cells argue that negative and positive factors are involved in choosing active and inactive Xs.

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