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Curr Opin Genet Dev. 1994 Apr;4(2):292-7.

X chromosome inactivation and the Xist gene.

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MRC Clinical Research Centre, Harrow, UK.


X chromosome inactivation in mammals was first described over 30 years ago. The biological problem is how to achieve gene dosage equivalence between XX females and XY males; the solution is to genetically silence one whole X chromosome in each cell of the early developing female embryo. The molecular mechanism by which this is achieved, however, remains a mystery. Recently, through the discovery of the Xist gene, it appears that we may be on the brink of learning how this unique phenomenon is mediated. Here, I discuss the developmental regulation of X inactivation and the candidacy of Xist as the X chromosome inactivation centre, with particular reference to its possible role in the initiation, spread and maintenance of X inactivation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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