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Cytogenet Genome Res. 2002;99(1-4):92-8.

Ectopic XIST transcripts in human somatic cells show variable expression and localization.

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Department of Medical Genetics, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada.


XIST encodes a functional RNA that is expressed exclusively from the inactive X in female mammals and is required for the silencing of most of the genes on the chromosome. XIST transcripts remain in the nucleus, and their specific localization to the inactive X is important for silencing; however, it is not known how these transcripts localize to the inactive X chromosome. Expression of mouse and human XIST from ectopic sites has suggested that localization to the chromosome from which the gene is expressed may be dependent upon either the copy number of the integrated constructs or the level of ectopic XIST expression. To further examine the behavior of XIST transgenes when expressed from ectopic sites, we introduced an XIST-containing PAC into the human male somatic cell line HT-1080. In five different transformant clones, the degree of localization and associated DNA condensation of the surrounding chromatin varied within nuclei of the same clone, as well as among different clones. Comparing the number of integrated transgenes and the levels of XIST expression revealed that neither factor was sufficient for a tight localization of the XIST signal. Therefore, the extent of expression and localization of XIST transcripts from ectopic transgenes is likely dependent upon many interacting factors, including the number of integrated transgenes, the level of XIST expression, and the site of integration.

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