Role of replication time in the control of tissue-specific gene expression

Am J Hum Genet. 1987 Feb;40(2):151-73.


Late-replicating chromatin in vertebrates is repressed. Housekeeping (constitutively active) genes always replicate early and are in the early-replicating R-bands. Tissue-specific genes are usually in the late-replicating G-bands and therein almost always replicate late. Within the G-bands, however, a tissue-specific gene does replicate early in those cell types that express that particular gene. While the condition of late replication may simply be coincident with gene repression, we review evidence suggesting that late replication may actively determine repression. As mammals utilize a developmental program to Lyonize (facultatively heterochromatinize) whole X chromosomes to a late-replicating and somatically heritable repressed state, similarly another program seems to Lyonize individual replicons. In frogs, all genes begin embryogenesis by replicating during a very short interval. As the developmental potency of embryonic cells becomes restricted, late-replicating DNA gradually appears. This addition to the repertoire of gene control--i.e., repression via Lyonization of individual replicons--seems to have evolved in vertebrates with G-bands being a manifestation of the mechanism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA Replication*
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Humans
  • Models, Genetic
  • Time Factors
  • Vertebrates / genetics