Escape from gene silencing in ICF syndrome: Evidence for advanced replication time as a major determinant

R. Scott Hansen, Reinhard Stöger, Cisca Wijmenga, Ann M. Stanek, Theresa K. Canfield, Ping Luo, Maria R. Matarazzo, Maurizio D'Esposito, Robert Feil, Giorgio Gimelli, Corry M R Weemaes, Charles D. Laird, Stanley M. Gartler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Chromosomal abnormalities associated with hypomethylation of classical satellite regions are characteristic for the ICF immunodeficiency syndrome. We, as well as others, have found that these effects derive from mutations in the DNMT3B DNA methyltransferase gene. Here we examine further the molecular phenotype of ICF cells and report several examples of extensive hypomethylation that are associated with advanced replication time, nuclease hypersensitivity and a variable escape from silencing for genes on the inactive X and Y chromosomes. Our analysis suggests that all genes on the inactive X chromosomes may be extremely hypomethylated at their 5' CpG islands. Our studies of G6PD in one ICF female and SYBL1 in another ICF female provide the first examples of abnormal escape from X chromosome inactivation in untransformed human fibroblasts. XIST RNA localization is normal in these cells, arguing against an independent silencing role for this RNA in somatic cells. SYBL1 silencing is also disrupted on the Y chromosome in ICF male cells. Increased chromatin sensitivity to nuclease was found at all hypomethylated promoters examined, including those of silenced genes. The persistence of inactivation in these latter cases appears to depend critically on delayed replication of DNA because escape from silencing was only seen when replication was advanced to an active X-like pattern.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2575-2587
Number of pages13
JournalHuman Molecular Genetics
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics


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