Down syndrome (DS) is the most common genetic cause of mental retardation and affects many aspects of brain development. DS individuals exhibit an overall reduction in brain size with a disproportionately greater reduction in cerebellar volume. The Ts65Dn mouse is segmentally trisomic for the distal 12-15 Mb of mouse chromosome 16, a region that shows perfect conserved linkage with human chromosome 21, and therefore provides a genetic model for DS. In this study, high resolution magnetic resonance imaging and histological analysis demonstrate precise neuroanatomical parallels between the DS and the Ts65Dn cerebellum. Cerebellar volume is significantly reduced in Ts65Dn mice due to reduction of both the internal granule layer and the molecular layer of the cerebellum. Granule cell number is further reduced by a decrease in cell density in the internal granule layer. Despite these changes in Ts65Dn cerebellar structure, motor deficits have not been detected in several tests. Reduction in granule cell density in Ts65Dn mice correctly predicts an analogous pathology in humans; a significant reduction in granule cell density in the DS cerebellum is reported here for the first time. The candidate region of genes on chromosome 21 affecting cerebellar development in DS is therefore delimited to the subset of genes whose orthologs are at dosage imbalance in Ts65Dn mice, providing the first localization of genes affecting a neuroanatomical phenotype in DS. The application of this model for analysis of developmental perturbations is extended by the accurate prediction of DS cerebellar phenotypes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology