Cellular resolution maps of X chromosome inactivation: implications for neural development, function, and disease

Neuron. 2014 Jan 8;81(1):103-19. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2013.10.051.


Female eutherian mammals use X chromosome inactivation (XCI) to epigenetically regulate gene expression from ∼4% of the genome. To quantitatively map the topography of XCI for defined cell types at single cell resolution, we have generated female mice that carry X-linked, Cre-activated, and nuclear-localized fluorescent reporters--GFP on one X chromosome and tdTomato on the other. Using these reporters in combination with different Cre drivers, we have defined the topographies of XCI mosaicism for multiple CNS cell types and of retinal vascular dysfunction in a model of Norrie disease. Depending on cell type, fluctuations in the XCI mosaic are observed over a wide range of spatial scales, from neighboring cells to left versus right sides of the body. These data imply a major role for XCI in generating female-specific, genetically directed, stochastic diversity in eutherian mammals on spatial scales that would be predicted to affect CNS function within and between individuals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Brain / cytology
  • Brain / embryology
  • Brain / growth & development
  • Choline O-Acetyltransferase / metabolism
  • Embryo, Mammalian
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / genetics
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / genetics
  • Humans
  • Hypoxanthine Phosphoribosyltransferase / genetics
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Mosaicism*
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism*
  • Neurons / classification
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide / genetics
  • Retina / cytology
  • X Chromosome / genetics*
  • X Chromosome Inactivation / genetics*


  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Choline O-Acetyltransferase
  • Hypoxanthine Phosphoribosyltransferase