Send to

Choose Destination
Nature. 2003 Dec 18;426(6968):857-62. Epub 2003 Dec 7.

Inheritance of a pre-inactivated paternal X chromosome in early mouse embryos.

Author information

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


In mammals, dosage compensation ensures equal X-chromosome expression between males (XY) and females (XX) by transcriptionally silencing one X chromosome in XX embryos. In the prevailing view, the XX zygote inherits two active X chromosomes, one each from the mother and father, and X inactivation does not occur until after implantation. Here, we report evidence to the contrary in mice. We find that one X chromosome is already silent at zygotic gene activation (2-cell stage). This X chromosome is paternal in origin and exhibits a gradient of silencing. Genes close to the X-inactivation centre show the greatest degree of inactivation, whereas more distal genes show variable inactivation and can partially escape silencing. After implantation, imprinted silencing in extraembryonic tissues becomes globalized and more complete on a gene-by-gene basis. These results argue that the XX embryo is in fact dosage compensated at conception along much of the X chromosome. We propose that imprinted X inactivation results from inheritance of a pre-inactivated X chromosome from the paternal germ line.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Nature Publishing Group
Loading ...
Support Center