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Genomics. 1992 Nov;14(3):598-603.

The hypervariable DXS255 locus contains a LINE-1 repetitive element with a CpG island that is extensively methylated only on the active X chromosome.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Oxford, United Kingdom.


The DXS255 locus at Xp11.22 is highly polymorphic due to a 26-bp variable number of tandem repeats (VNTR) motif. In previous studies, one of the MspI sites flanking the VNTR manifested a correlation between methylation and X chromosome inactivation. Here we show, by DNA sequence analysis, that this MspI site is located within the CpG island at the 5' end of a LINE-1 element, which is 2.5 kb from the VNTR. The methylation status of the CpG island was assessed in Southern blotting experiments using the methylation-sensitive enzymes HpaII, HhaI, and BssHII. All these sites were completely methylated on active X chromosomes, consistent with previously reported findings of full methylation of LINE-1 elements throughout the genome. However, on inactive X chromosomes these sites were predominantly unmethylated, although patterns were found to be heterogeneous. The results suggest that LINE-1 elements on the inactive X chromosome are not suppressed by full methylation of their CpG islands. The differential methylation of the DXS255 CpG island provides the basis for a highly informative X inactivation analysis system.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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