Reactivation of an inactive human X chromosome: evidence for X inactivation by DNA methylation

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Science  23 Jan 1981:
Vol. 211, Issue 4480, pp. 393-396
DOI: 10.1126/science.6164095


A mouse-human somatic cell hybrid clone, deficient in hypoxanthine-guanine phosphoribosyltransferase (HPRT) and containing a structurally normal inactive human X chromosome, was isolated. The hybrid cells were treated with 5-azacytidine and tested for the reactivation and expression of human X-linked genes. The frequency of HPRT-positives clones after 5-azacytidine treatment was 1000-fold greater than that observed in untreated hybrid cells. Fourteen independent HPRT-positive clones were isolated and analyzed for the expression of human X markers. Isoelectric focusing showed that the HPRT expressed in these clones is human. One of the 14 clones expressed human glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase and another expressed human phosphoglycerate kinase. Since 5-azacytidine treatment results in hypomethylation of DNA, DNA methylation may be a mechanism of human X chromosome inactivation.