UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Out of the Silence: Insights into How Genes Escape X-Chromosome Inactivation Peeters, Samantha B.; Posynick, Bronwyn J.; Brown, Carolyn J.


The silencing of all but one X chromosome in mammalian cells is a remarkable epigenetic process leading to near dosage equivalence in X-linked gene products between the sexes. However, equally remarkable is the ability of a subset of genes to continue to be expressed from the otherwise inactive X chromosome—in some cases constitutively, while other genes are variable between individuals, tissues or cells. In this review we discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the approaches that have been used to identify escapees. The identity of escapees provides important clues to mechanisms underlying escape from XCI, an arena of study now moving from correlation to functional studies. As most escapees show greater expression in females, the not-so-inactive X chromosome is a substantial contributor to sex differences in humans, and we highlight some examples of such impact.

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