How was the most famous long noncoding RNA in mammals discovered? This was the subject of the round-table session “30 years of Xist/XIST discovery”, held during the 2023 X-inactivation conference in Berlin. The guests – Andrea Ballabio, Carolyn J. Brown, Neil Brockdorff and Sohaila Rastan – represented the three different teams of researchers that in three separate studies in 1991 reported the discovery of a long transcript with no coding potential associated with the inactive X chromosome, either in mouse or human. As for many other scientific discoveries, this was a journey combining hard work and dedication with serendipity. Importantly, competing teams would share data with each other – the sequences of Xist/XIST travelled across the Atlantic in floppy disks. Hosted by two PhD students, Antonia Hauth (Edith Heard’s lab) and Emmanuel Cazottes (Claire Rougeulle’s lab), the session ends with final messages to early career researchers.
To learn more about the 2023 X-inactivation conference, read the Meeting Review by Yolanda Moyano-Rodriguez and Maud Borensztein (IGMM) in Development: X-chromosome inactivation: a historic topic that’s still hot