Trisomy 21-associated increases in chromosomal instability are unmasked by comparing isogenic trisomic/disomic leukocytes from people with mosaic Down syndrome.

Rafferty, KellyArcher, Kellie JTurner, KristiBrown, RuthJackson-Cook, Colleen


Down syndrome (DS) is associated with over 80 observable traits, but the changes that arise on a cellular level are not fully understood. These changes are called spontaneous somatic cell chromosomal instability frequencies (SCINF). By studying cells from people with mosaic Down syndrome, researchers have identified an observable increase in SCINF associated with age. This research also highlights the strength of cells from people with mosaic DS as a method for uncovering the details of such cellular changes.


Down syndrome, which results from a trisomic imbalance for chromosome 21, has been associated with 80+ phenotypic traits. However, the cellular changes that arise in somatic cells due to this aneuploid condition are not fully understood. The primary aim of this study was to determine if germline trisomy 21 is associated with an increase in spontaneous somatic cell chromosomal instability frequencies (SCINF). To achieve this aim, we quantified SCINF in people with mosaic Down syndrome using a cytokinesis-blocked micronucleus assay. By comparing values in their isogenic trisomic/disomic cells, we obtained a measure of differences in SCINF that are directly attributable to a trisomy 21 imbalance, since differential effects attributable to "background" genetic factors and environmental exposures could be eliminated. A cross-sectional assessment of 69 people with mosaic Down syndrome (ages 1 to 44; mean age of 12.84 years) showed a significantly higher frequency of micronuclei in their trisomic (0.37 ± 0.35 [mean ± standard deviation]) compared to disomic cells (0.18 ± 0.11)(P <0.0001). The daughter binucleates also showed significantly higher levels of abnormal patterns in the trisomic (1.68 ± 1.21) compared to disomic (0.35 ± 0.45) cells (P <0.0001). Moreover, a significant Age x Cell Type interaction was noted (P = 0.0113), indicating the relationship between age and SCINF differed between the trisomic and disomic cells. Similarly, a longitudinal assessment (mean time interval of 3.9 years; range of 2 to 6 years) of 18 participants showed a mean 1.63-fold increase in SCINF within individuals over time for their trisomic cells (P = 0.0186), compared to a 1.13-fold change in their disomic cells (P = 0.0464). In summary, these results showed a trisomy 21-associated, age-related increase in SCINF. They also underscore the strength of the isogenic mosaic Down syndrome model system for "unmasking" cellular changes arising from a trisomy 21 imbalance.


Aneuploidy, Chromosomal Instability, Trisomy, Uniparental Disomy