Send to

Choose Destination
Curr Opin Cell Biol. 2012 Jun;24(3):397-404. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2012 Mar 14.

Origin and evolution of X chromosome inactivation.

Author information

Department of Reproduction and Development, Erasmus MC, University Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.


Evolution of the mammalian sex chromosomes heavily impacts on the expression of X-encoded genes, both in marsupials and placental mammals. The loss of genes from the Y chromosome forced a two-fold upregulation of dose sensitive X-linked homologues. As a corollary, female cells would experience a lethal dose of X-linked genes, if this upregulation was not counteracted by evolution of X chromosome inactivation (XCI) that allows for only one active X chromosome per diploid genome. Marsupials rely on imprinted XCI, which inactivates always the paternally inherited X chromosome. In placental mammals, random XCI (rXCI) is the predominant form, inactivating either the maternal or paternal X. In this review, we discuss recent new insights in the regulation of XCI. Based on these findings, we propose an X inactivation center (Xic), composed of a cis-Xic and trans-Xic that encompass all elements and factors acting to control rXCI either in cis or in trans. We also highlight that XCI may have evolved from a very small nucleation site on the X chromosome in the vicinity of the Sox3 gene. Finally, we discuss the possible evolutionary road maps that resulted in imprinted XCI and rXCI as observed in present day mammals.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center