Reactivation of the inactive X chromosome in development and reprogramming

In mammals, one of the two X chromosomes of female cells is inactivated for dosage compensation between the sexes. X chromosome inactivation is initiated in early embryos by the noncoding Xist RNA. Subsequent chromatin modifications on the inactive X chromosome (Xi) lead to a remarkable stability of gene repression in somatic cell lineages. In mice, reactivation of genes on the Xi accompanies the establishment of pluripotent cells of the female blastocyst and the development of primordial germ cells. Xi reactivation also occurs when pluripotency is established during the reprogramming of somatic cells to induced pluripotent stem cells. The mechanism of Xi reactivation has attracted increasing interest for studying changes in epigenetic patterns and for improving methods of cell reprogramming. Here, the authors review recent advances in the understanding of Xi reactivation during development and reprogramming and illustrate potential clinical applications.


  • Ohhata T, Wutz A. (2013) Reactivation of the inactive X chromosome in development and reprogramming. Cell Mol Life Sci 70(14), 2443-61. [article]

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