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Development. 2011 May;138(10):2049-57. doi: 10.1242/dev.061176. Epub 2011 Apr 6.

Transcription precedes loss of Xist coating and depletion of H3K27me3 during X-chromosome reprogramming in the mouse inner cell mass.

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  • 1Department of Genetics, Carolina Center for Genome Sciences, and Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7264, USA.


Repression of Xist RNA expression is considered a prerequisite to reversal of X-chromosome inactivation (XCI) in the mouse inner cell mass (ICM), and reactivation of X-linked genes is thought to follow loss of Xist RNA coating and heterochromatic markers of inactivation, such as methylation of histone H3. We analyzed X-chromosome activity in developing ICMs and show that reactivation of gene expression from the inactive-X initiates in the presence of Xist coating and H3K27me3. Furthermore, depletion of Xist RNA coating through forced upregulation of NANOG does not result in altered reactivation kinetics. Taken together, our observations suggest that in the ICM, X-linked gene transcription and Xist coating are uncoupled. These data fundamentally alter our perception of the reactivation process and support the existence of a mechanism to reactivate Xp-linked genes in the ICM that operates independently of loss of Xist RNA and H3K27me3 from the imprinted inactive-X.

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