X-chromosome inactivation (XCI) is an essential epigenetic process in female mammalian development. Although cell-based studies suggest the potential importance of the Ftx long non-protein-coding RNA (lncRNA) in XCI, its physiological roles in vivo remain unclear. Here we show that targeted deletion of X-linked mouse Ftx lncRNA causes eye abnormalities resembling human microphthalmia in a subset of females but rarely in males. This inheritance pattern cannot be explained by X-linked dominant or recessive inheritance, where males typically show a more severe phenotype than females. In Ftx-deficient mice, some X-linked genes remain active on the inactive X, suggesting that defects in random XCI in somatic cells cause a substantially female-specific phenotype. The expression level of Xist, a master regulator of XCI, is diminished in females homozygous or heterozygous for Ftx deficiency. We propose that loss-of-Ftx lncRNA abolishes gene silencing on the inactive X chromosome, leading to a female microphthalmia-like phenotype.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)