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Nat Genet. 2002 Sep;32(1):195-200. Epub 2002 Jul 29.

Homozygous Tsix mutant mice reveal a sex-ratio distortion and revert to random X-inactivation.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Molecular Biology, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA.


Tsix controls X-chromosome inactivation (XCI) by blocking the accumulation of Xist RNA on the future active X chromosome. Deleting Tsix on one X chromosome (X(Delta)X) skews XCI toward the mutated X chromosome in the female soma. Here I have generated homozygous Tsix-null mice (X(Delta)X(Delta)) to test how deleting the second allele affects the choice of XCI. Homozygosity leads to extremely low fertility and reveals two previously unknown non-mendelian patterns of inheritance. First, the sex ratio is skewed against female births so that one daughter is born for every two to three sons. Second, the pattern of XCI unexpectedly returns to random in surviving X(Delta)X(Delta) mice. Thus, with respect to choice, mutation of Tsix yields a phenotypic abnormality in heterozygotes but not homozygotes. To reconcile the paradox of female loss with apparent reversion to random choice, I propose that deleting both Tsix alleles results in chaotic choice and that randomness in X(Delta)X(Delta) survivors reflects a fortuitous selection of distinct X chromosomes as active and inactive.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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