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Cell. 1997 Oct 3;91(1):99-107.

Stabilization of Xist RNA mediates initiation of X chromosome inactivation.

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X Inactivation Group, MRC Clinical Sciences Centre, United Kingdom.


The onset of X inactivation is preceded by a marked increase in the level of Xist RNA. Here we demonstrate that increased stability of Xist RNA is the primary determinant of developmental up-regulation. Unstable transcript is produced by both alleles in XX ES cells and in XX embryos prior to the onset of random X inactivation. Following differentiation, transcription of unstable RNA from the active X chromosome allele continues for a period following stabilization and accumulation of transcript on the inactive X allele. We discuss the implications of these findings in terms of models for the initiation of random and imprinted X inactivation.

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