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Genomics. 1990 May;7(1):37-46.

Chromosomal localization of ZFX--a human gene that escapes X inactivation--and its murine homologs.

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  • 1Whitehead Institute, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge 02142.


The ZFY gene, found in the sex-determining region of the human Y chromosome, encodes a zinc-finger protein that may be the pivotal sex-determining signal. A closely related gene, ZFX, is found on the human X chromosome, and it may also function in sex determination. ZFX is one of a few genes on the human X chromosome that are known to escape X inactivation. We report the localization of ZFX, by meiotic linkage analysis and physical mapping, distal to POLA but proximal to DXS41 (p99-6), near the boundary of bands Xp21.3 and Xp22.1. (Our results suggest the following order of loci in Xp21-p22: cen-DMD-[GK,AHC]-DXS67 (pB24)-POLA-ZFX-[DXS41 (p99-6), DXS274 (CRI-L1391)]-DXS43 (pD2)-pter.) These findings contradict the model that escape from X inactivation is limited to genes near the short-arm telomere (i.e., in Xp22.3). Instead, escape from X inactivation is likely a property of several noncontiguous segments of the X chromosome. Curiously, in mouse, the homologous Zfx gene maps to X chromosome band D, near the center from which an X-inactivating signal is thought to spread. As judged by comparative mapping, it appears that an X-chromosomal segment that spans the ZFX and DMD genes has remained grossly intact during the divergence of mouse and human from a common ancestor. Conservation of this chromosomal segment may extent to marsupials, where homologs of the ZFX and DMD genes have been observed in proximity, but on an autosome. While autosomal homologs of ZFX have not been observed in other placental mammals, a locus derived from a processed Zfx transcript is found on mouse chromosome 10 band B3 or B4.

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