X chromosome inactivation involves a random choice to silence either X chromosome early in mammalian female development. Once silenced the inactive X is stably inherited through subsequent somatic cell divisions, and thus, females are generally mosaics, having a mixture of cells with one or the other parental X active. While in most females the number of cells with either X being active is roughly equal, skewing of X chromosome inactivation is observed in a percentage of women. In this issue of the JCI, Bolduc and colleagues address whether skewing of X chromosome inactivation in humans is influenced by an X-linked locus that can alter this initial random inactivation (see the related article beginning on page 333). Their data indicate that most of the skewing observed in humans results from secondary events rather than being due to an inherited tendency to inactivate a particular X chromosome.
Jakub Minks, Wendy P. Robinson, Carolyn J. Brown