MA Eckersley-Maslin, D Thybert, JH Bergmann, JC Marioni, P Flicek, DL Spector
Random autosomal monoallelic gene expression refers to the transcription of a gene from one of two homologous alleles. We assessed the dynamics of monoallelic expression during development through an allele-specific RNA-sequencing screen in clonal populations of hybrid mouse embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and neural progenitor cells (NPCs). We identified 67 and 376 inheritable autosomal random monoallelically expressed genes in ESCs and NPCs, respectively, a 5.6-fold increase upon differentiation. Although DNA methylation and nuclear positioning did not distinguish the active and inactive alleles, specific histone modifications were differentially enriched between the two alleles. Interestingly, expression levels of 8% of the monoallelically expressed genes remained similar between monoallelic and biallelic clones. These results support a model in which random monoallelic expression occurs stochastically during differentiation and, for some genes, is compensated for by the cell to maintain the required transcriptional output of these genes.