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We have investigated the role of histone acetylation in X chromosome inactivation, focusing on its possible involvement in the regulation of Xist, an essential gene expressed only from the inactive X (Xi). We have identified a region of H4 hyperacetylation extending up to 120 kb upstream from the Xist somatic promoter P1. This domain includes the promoter P0, which gives rise to the unstable Xist transcript in undifferentiated cells. The hyperacetylated domain was not seen in male cells or in female XT67E1 cells, a mutant cell line heterozygous for a partially deleted Xist allele and in which an increased number of cells fail to undergo X inactivation. The hyperacetylation upstream of Xist was lost by day 7 of differentiation, when X inactivation was essentially complete. Wild-type cells differentiated in the presence of the histone deacetylase inhibitor Trichostatin A were prevented from forming a normally inactivated X, as judged by the frequency of underacetylated X chromosomes detected by immunofluorescence microscopy. Mutant XT67E1 cells, lacking hyperacetylation upstream of Xist, were less affected. We propose that (i) hyperacetylation of chromatin upstream of Xist facilitates the promoter switch that leads to stabilization of the Xist transcript and (ii) that the subsequent deacetylation of this region is essential for the further progression of X inactivation.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





2897 - 2907


Acetylation, Animals, Cell Differentiation, Cell Division, Cell Line, Chromatin, Dosage Compensation, Genetic, Enzyme Inhibitors, Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental, Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors, Histones, Hydroxamic Acids, Mice, Mutation, Promoter Regions, Genetic, RNA, Long Noncoding, RNA, Untranslated, Stem Cells, Time Factors, Transcription Factors, X Chromosome