Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disorder that predominantly affects women and is driven by autoreactive T cell–mediated inflammation. It is known that individuals with multiple X-chromosomes are at increased risk for developing SLE; however, the mechanisms underlying this genetic basis are unclear. Here, we use single cell imaging to determine the epigenetic features of the inactive X (Xi) in developing thymocytes, mature T cell subsets, and T cells from SLE patients and mice. We show that Xist RNA and heterochromatin modifications transiently reappear at the Xi and are missing in mature single positive T cells. Activation of mature T cells restores Xist RNA and heterochromatin marks simultaneously back to the Xi. Notably, X-chromosome inactivation (XCI) maintenance is altered in T cells of SLE patients and late-stage–disease NZB/W F1 female mice, and we show that X-linked genes are abnormally upregulated in SLE patient T cells. SLE T cells also have altered expression of XIST RNA interactome genes, accounting for perturbations of Xi epigenetic features. Thus, abnormal XCI maintenance is a feature of SLE disease, and we propose that Xist RNA localization at the Xi could be an important factor for maintaining dosage compensation of X-linked genes in T cells.
Camille M. Syrett, Bam Paneru, Donavon Sandoval-Heglund, Jianle Wang, Sarmistha Banerjee, Vishal Sindhava, Edward M. Behrens, Michael Atchison, Montserrat C. Anguera
Xist RNA and heterochromatin marks disappear from the Xi during T cell development.