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Nuclear compartments play diverse roles in regulating gene expression, yet the molecular forces and components driving compartment formation are not well understood. Studying how the lncRNA Xist establishes the inactive-X-chromosome (Xi)-compartment, we found that the Xist RNA-binding-proteins PTBP1, MATR3, TDP43, and CELF1 form a condensate to create an Xi-domain that can be sustained in the absence of Xist . The E-repeat-sequence of Xist serves a multivalent binding-platform for these proteins. Without the E-repeat, Xist initially coats the X-chromosome during XCI onset but subsequently disperses across the nucleus with loss of gene silencing. Recruitment of PTBP1, MATR3, TDP-43 or CELF1 to ΔE- Xist rescues these phenotypes, and requires both self-association of MATR3 and TDP-43 and a heterotypic PTBP1-MATR3-interaction. Together, our data reveal that Xist sequesters itself within the Xi-territory and perpetuates gene silencing by seeding a protein-condensate. Our findings uncover an unanticipated mechanism for epigenetic memory and elucidate the interplay between RNA and RNA-binding-proteins in creating compartments for gene regulation.

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