Variability of sequence surrounding the Xist gene in rodents suggests taxon-specific regulation of X chromosome inactivation.
Shevchenko AI., Malakhova AA., Elisaphenko EA., Mazurok NA., Nesterova TB., Brockdorff N., Zakian SM.
One of the two X chromosomes in female mammalian cells is subject to inactivation (XCI) initiated by the Xist gene. In this study, we examined in rodents (voles and rat) the conservation of the microsatellite region DXPas34, the Tsix gene (antisense counterpart of Xist), and enhancer Xite that have been shown to flank Xist and regulate XCI in mouse. We have found that mouse regions of the Tsix gene major promoter and minisatellite repeat DXPas34 are conserved among rodents. We have also shown that in voles and rat the region homologous to the mouse Tsix major promoter, initiates antisense to Xist transcription and terminates around the Xist gene start site as is observed with mouse Tsix. A conservation of Tsix expression pattern in voles, rat and mice suggests a crucial role of the antisense transcription in regulation of Xist and XIC in rodents. Most surprisingly, we have found that voles lack the regions homologous to the regulatory element Xite, which is instead replaced with the Slc7a3 gene that is unassociated with the X-inactivation centre in any other eutherians studied. Furthermore, we have not identified any transcription that could have the same functions as murine Xite in voles. Overall, our data show that not all the functional elements surrounding Xist in mice are well conserved even within rodents, thereby suggesting that the regulation of XCI may be at least partially taxon-specific.