X-chromosome activity in foetal germ cells of the mouse

J Embryol Exp Morphol. 1981 Jun;63:75-84.


A cycle of inactivation and reactivation of one X chromosome in the female (XX) germ line is shown by analysis of gene dosage effects on activity of an X-linked enzyme. The ratio of activities of the X-linked enzyme HPRT and an autosomal enzyme APRT are determined in XX and XY germ cells from embryonic gonads from the 12th to the 17th day of pregnancy. Mitotic stages of XX and XY germ cells on the 12th day have similar HPRT:APRT ratios, but on the 13th day the ratios are significantly higher in XX than XY germ cells. As the XX germ cells enter meiosis they show a marked increase in HPRT:APRT ratio which is primarily due to a rise in X-linked HPRT activity. Comparisons are made with XO germ cells on the 12th and 14th day. On the 12th day, XO do not differ from XX and XY germ cells, suggesting that only one X chromosome is active in XX germ cells at this stage. On the 14th day, on the other hand, the HPRT:APRT ratios in XO and XY germ cells are similar but in XX germ cells the ratio is significantly higher. The twofold difference between the ratio in XX and XO germ cells suggests that by this stage both X chromosomes are active in XX germ cells. The subsequent large increase of the ratio in XX relative to XY germ cells is thought to reflect their differing cell states.

MeSH terms

  • Adenine Phosphoribosyltransferase / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Female
  • Germ Cells / enzymology
  • Germ Cells / ultrastructure*
  • Gestational Age
  • Hypoxanthine Phosphoribosyltransferase / metabolism
  • Male
  • Meiosis
  • Mice
  • Sex Chromosomes / physiology*
  • X Chromosome / enzymology
  • X Chromosome / physiology*


  • Adenine Phosphoribosyltransferase
  • Hypoxanthine Phosphoribosyltransferase