Send to

Choose Destination
Mol Cell. 2006 Mar 3;21(5):617-28.

A transient heterochromatic state in Xist preempts X inactivation choice without RNA stabilization.

Author information

Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, 02114, USA.


X chromosome inactivation (XCI) depends on a noncoding sense-antisense transcript pair, Xist and Tsix. At the onset of XCI, Xist RNA accumulates on one of two Xs, coating and silencing the chromosome in cis. The molecular basis for monoallelic Xist upregulation is not known, though evidence predominantly supports a posttranscriptional mechanism through RNA stabilization. Here, we test whether Tsix RNA destabilizes Xist RNA. Unexpectedly, we find that Xist upregulation is not based on transcript stabilization at all but is instead controlled by transcription in a sex-specific manner. Tsix directly regulates its transcription. On the future inactive X, Tsix downregulation induces a transient heterochromatic state in Xist, followed paradoxically by high-level Xist expression. A Tsix-deficient X chromosome adopts the heterochromatic state in pre-XCI cells. This state persists through XCI establishment and "reverts" to a euchromatic state during XCI maintenance. We have therefore identified chromatin marks that preempt and predict asymmetric Xist expression.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center