In mammals, X-chromosome inactivation is imprinted in the extra-embryonic lineages with paternal X chromosome being preferentially inactivated. In this study, we investigate the role of Tsix, the antisense transcript from the Xist locus, in regulation of Xist expression and X-inactivation. We show that Tsix is transcribed from two putative promoters and its transcripts are processed. Expression of Tsix is first detected in blastocysts and is imprinted with only the maternal allele transcribed. The imprinted expression of Tsix persists in the extra-embryonic tissues after implantation, but is erased in embryonic tissues. To investigate the function of Tsix in X-inactivation, we disrupted Tsix by insertion of an IRES(β)geo cassette in the second exon, which blocked transcripts from both promoters. While disruption of the paternal Tsix allele has no adverse effects on embryonic development, inheritance of a disrupted maternal allele results in ectopic Xist expression and early embryonic lethality, owing to inactivation of both X chromosomes in females and single X chromosome in males. Further, early developmental defects of female embryos with maternal transmission of Tsix mutation can be rescued by paternal inheritance of the Xist deletion. These results provide genetic evidence that Tsix plays a crucial role in maintaining Xist silencing in cis and in regulation of imprinted X-inactivation in the extra-embryonic tissues.

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