Send to

Choose Destination
Genes Dev. 2009 Oct 15;23(20):2437-47. doi: 10.1101/gad.544509.

Allelic inactivation of rDNA loci.

Author information

Department of Cellular Biochemistry and Experimental Medicine, Hebrew University Medical School, Ein Kerem, Jerusalem 91120, Israel.


Human cells contain several hundred ribosomal genes (rDNA) that are clustered into nucleolar organizer regions (NORs) on the short arms of five different acrocentric chromosomes. Only approximately 50% of the gene copies are actually expressed in somatic cells. Here, we used a new cytological technique to demonstrate that rDNA is regulated allelically in a regional manner, with one parental copy of each NOR being repressed in any individual cell. This process is similar to that of X-chromosome inactivation in females. Early in development, one copy of each NOR becomes late-replicating, thus probably marking it for inactivation and subsequent targeted de novo methylation at rDNA promoter regions. Once established, this multichromosomal allelic pattern is then maintained clonally in somatic cells. This pathway may serve as an epigenetic mechanism for controlling the number of available rDNA copies during development.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center