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X chromosome reactivation in oocytes of Mus caroli.

  • P G Kratzer
  • V M Chapman
Publication Date
May 01, 1981
  • Biology
  • Medicine


Mature mammalian oocytes have both of their X chromosomes active, while somatic cells from the same individual have one of their X chromosomes in an inactive state. We asked whether the X chromosomes of the germ cells never undergo inactivation in their ontogeny or whether inactivation of an X chromosome does occur but is followed by a subsequent reactivation event. Our approach has used an electrophoretic polymorphism for the X-linked enzyme glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) in the mouse species Mus caroli. G6PD is dimeric, and a heterodimer is produced in cells from heterozygous females if and only if both X chromosomes are active. Ovaries from heterozygous fetuses at different gestational ages were dissected and either studied cytologically or pressed between microscopy slides to obtain germ cell-rich and germ cell-poor preparations. No heterodimer band was detected on the 10th day of development in germ cell-rich preparations. On subsequent days, an increasingly intense heterodimer band was detected, which, by the 13th day, was approximately twice as intense as the corresponding homodimer bands. Consideration of (i) the G6PD activity per germ cell and per somatic cell and (ii) the percentage of germ cells in the germ cell-rich preparations indicated that a heterodimer band should have been visible on the 10th day had both X chromosomes been active. Cytological examinations showed that the earliest germ cells enter meiotic prophase on the eleventh day. These results demonstrate that oogonia have a single active X chromosome and that the inactive X chromosome is reactivated at or, more likely, shortly before entry into meiotic prophase.

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