X-chromosome inactivation may explain the difference in viability of XO humans and mice

Nature. 1991 May 30;351(6325):406-8. doi: 10.1038/351406a0.


Only about 1% of human XO conceptuses survive to birth and these usually have the characteristics of Turner's syndrome, with a complex and variable phenotype including short stature, gonadal dysgenesis and anatomical defects. Both the embryonic lethality and Turner's syndrome are thought to be due to monosomy for a gene or genes common to the X and Y chromosomes. These genes would be expected to be expressed in females from both active and inactive X chromosomes to ensure correct dosage of gene product. Two genes with these properties are ZFX and RPS4X, both of which have been proposed to play a role in Turner's syndrome. In contrast to humans, mice that are XO are viable with no prenatal lethality (P. Burgoyne, personal communication) and are anatomically normal and fertile. We have devised a system to analyse whether specific genes on the mouse X chromosome are inactivated, and demonstrate that both Zfx and Rps4X undergo normal X-inactivation in mice. Thus the relative viability of XO mice compared to XO humans may be explained by differences between the two species in the way that dosage compensation of specific genes is achieved.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • Dosage Compensation, Genetic*
  • Genes, Lethal
  • Humans
  • Kruppel-Like Transcription Factors
  • Mice
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Oligonucleotides / chemistry
  • Ornithine Carbamoyltransferase / genetics
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Ribosomal Proteins / genetics
  • Transcription Factors
  • Turner Syndrome / genetics*
  • Zinc Fingers


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Kruppel-Like Transcription Factors
  • Oligonucleotides
  • Ribosomal Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • ribosomal protein S4
  • zinc finger protein, X-linked
  • Ornithine Carbamoyltransferase