Many X-linked microRNAs escape meiotic sex chromosome inactivation

Rui Song, Seungil Ro, Jason D. Michaels, Chanjae Park, John R. Mccarrey, Wei Yan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

162 Scopus citations


Meiotic sex chromosome inactivation (MSCI) during spermatogenesis is characterized by transcriptional silencing of genes on both the X and Y chromosomes in mid-to-late pachytene spermatocytes. MSCI is believed to result from meiotic silencing of unpaired DNA because the X and Y chromosomes remain largely unpaired throughout first meiotic prophase. However, unlike X-chromosome inactivation in female embryonic cells, where 25-30% of X-linked structural genes have been reported to escape inactivation, previous microarray- and RT-PCR-based studies of expression of >364 X-linked mRNA-encoding genes during spermatogenesis have failed to reveal any X-linked gene that escapes the silencing effects of MSCI in primary spermatocytes. Here we show that many X-linked miRNAs are transcribed and processed in pachytene spermatocytes. This unprecedented escape from MSCI by these X-linked miRNAs suggests that they may participate in a critical function at this stage of spermatogenesis, including the possibility that they contribute to the process of MSCI itself, or that they may be essential for post-transcriptional regulation of autosomal mRNAs during the late meiotic and early postmeiotic stages of spermatogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)488-493
Number of pages6
JournalNature Genetics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics


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