Human Genetics

, Volume 130, Issue 2, pp 175–185

X-chromosome inactivation: molecular mechanisms from the human perspective

  • Christine Yang
  • Andrew G. Chapman
  • Angela D. Kelsey
  • Jakub Minks
  • Allison M. Cotton
  • Carolyn J. Brown
Review Paper


X-chromosome inactivation is an epigenetic process whereby one X chromosome is silenced in mammalian female cells. Since it was first proposed by Lyon in 1961, mouse models have been valuable tools to uncover the molecular mechanisms underlying X inactivation. However, there are also inherent differences between mouse and human X inactivation, ranging from sequence content of the X inactivation center to the phenotypic outcomes of X-chromosome abnormalities. X-linked gene dosage in males, females, and individuals with X aneuploidies and X/autosome translocations has demonstrated that many human genes escape X inactivation, implicating cis-regulatory elements in the spread of silencing. We discuss the potential nature of these elements and also review the elements in the X inactivation center involved in the early events in X-chromosome inactivation.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christine Yang
    • 1
  • Andrew G. Chapman
    • 1
  • Angela D. Kelsey
    • 1
  • Jakub Minks
    • 1
  • Allison M. Cotton
    • 1
  • Carolyn J. Brown
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Medical Genetics, Molecular Epigenetics Group, Life Sciences InstituteUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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