X chromosome inactivation occurs twice during the mammalian life cycle. In females one of the two X chromosomes of somatic nuclei is inactive, while in males the solitary X chromosome is inactivated during germ cell development. Despite the different properties of the inactivated chromosomes of females and males, the molecular initiation of inactivation may be the same. X inactive-specific transcripts, XIST, are produced from somatic inactivated X chromosomes. We demonstrate here the existence of XIST transcripts in testes of man and mouse. Inactivation of X chromosomes in males, as in females, may thus be mediated through XIST. Conceivably, the silencing of X-linked genes is the price paid for the evolution of successful mechanisms of chromosomal sex determination.
X inactivation in mammalian testis is correlated with inactive X-specific transcription
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