X-Chromosome Inactivation and Autosomal Random Monoallelic Expression as “Faux Amis”

Vasco M. Barreto, Nadiya Kubasova, Clara F. Alves-Pereira, Anne Valerie Gendrel

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X-chromosome inactivation (XCI) and random monoallelic expression of autosomal genes (RMAE) are two paradigms of gene expression regulation where, at the single cell level, genes can be expressed from either the maternal or paternal alleles. X-chromosome inactivation takes place in female marsupial and placental mammals, while RMAE has been described in mammals and also other species. Although the outcome of both processes results in random monoallelic expression and mosaicism at the cellular level, there are many important differences. We provide here a brief sketch of the history behind the discovery of XCI and RMAE. Moreover, we review some of the distinctive features of these two phenomena, with respect to when in development they are established, their roles in dosage compensation and cellular phenotypic diversity, and the molecular mechanisms underlying their initiation and stability.

Original languageEnglish
Article number740937
JournalFrontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology
Publication statusPublished - 23 Sep 2021


  • cellular diversity
  • dosage compensation
  • epigenetic silencing
  • LINE-1 elements
  • random monoallelic expression
  • stochasticity
  • X-chromosome inactivation


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