A functional chromatin domain does not resist X chromosome inactivation: Silencing of cLys correlates with methylation of a dual promoter-replication origin

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Colleges, School and Institutes


To investigate the molecular mechanism(s) involved in the propagation and maintenance of X chromosome inactivation (XCI), the 21.4-kb chicken lysozyme (cLys) chromatin domain was inserted into the Hprt locus on the mouse X chromosome. The inserted fragment includes flanking matrix attachment regions (MARs), an origin of bidirectional replication (OBR), and all the cis-regulatory elements required for correct tissue-specific expression of cLys. It also contains a recently identified and widely expressed second gene, cGas41. The cLys domain is known to function as an autonomous unit resistant to chromosomal position effects, as evidenced by numerous transgenic mouse lines showing copy-number-dependent and development-specific expression of cLys in the myeloid lineage. We asked the questions whether this functional chromatin domain was resistant to XCI and whether the X inactivation signal could spread across an extended region of avian DNA. A generally useful method was devised to generate pure populations of macrophages with the transgene either on the active (Xa) or the inactive (Xi) chromosome. We found that (i) cLys and cGas41 are expressed normally from the Xa; (ii) the cLys chromatin domain, even when bracketed by MARs, is not resistant to XCI; (iii) transcription factors are excluded from lysozyme enhancers on the Xi; and (iv) inactivation correlates with methylation of a CpG island that is both an OBR and a promoter of the cGas41 gene.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4667-4676
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular and Cellular Biology
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2002