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Genetics. 2011 Oct;189(2):441-54. doi: 10.1534/genetics.111.132662. Epub 2011 Aug 11.

A boundary element between Tsix and Xist binds the chromatin insulator Ctcf and contributes to initiation of X-chromosome inactivation.

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


In mammals, X-chromosome inactivation (XCI) equalizes X-linked gene expression between XY males and XX females and is controlled by a specialized region known as the X-inactivation center (Xic). The Xic harbors two chromatin interaction domains, one centered around the noncoding Xist gene and the other around the antisense Tsix counterpart. Previous work demonstrated the existence of a chromatin transitional zone between the two domains. Here, we investigate the region and discover a conserved element, RS14, that presents a strong binding site for Ctcf protein. RS14 possesses an insulatory function suggestive of a boundary element and is crucial for cell differentiation and growth. Knocking out RS14 results in compromised Xist induction and aberrant XCI in female cells. These data demonstrate that a junction element between Tsix and Xist contributes to the initiation of XCI.

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