Elucidating the mechanisms of paternal non-disjunction of chromosome 21 in humans

Amanda R. Savage, Michael B. Petersen, Dorothy Pettay, Lisa Taft, Katherine Allran, Sallie B. Freeman, Georgia Karadima, Dimitris Avramopoulos, Claudine Torfs, Margareta Mikkelsen, Terry J. Hassold, Stephanie L. Sherman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


Paternal non-disjunction of chromosome 21 accounts for 5-10% of Down syndrome cases, therefore, relative to the maternally derived cases, little is known about paternally derived trisomy 21. We present the first analysis of recombination and non-disjunction for a large paternally derived population of free trisomy 21 conceptuses (n = 67). Unlike maternal cases where the ratio of meiosis I (MI) to meiosis II (MII) errors is 3:1, a near 1:1 ratio exists among paternal cases, with a slight excess of MII errors. We found no paternal age effect for the overall population nor when classifying cases according to stage of non-disjunction error. Among 22 MI cases, only five had an observable recombinant event. This differs significantly from the 11 expected events (P < 0.02, Fisher's exact), suggesting reduced recombination along the non-disjoined chromosomes 21 involved in paternal MI nondisjunction. No difference in recombination was detected among 27 paternal MII cases as compared with controls. However, cases exhibited a slight increase in the frequency of proximal and medial exchange when compared with controls (0.37 versus 0.28, respectively). Lastly, this study confirmed previous reports of excess male probands among paternally derived trisomy 21 cases. However, we report evidence suggesting an MII stage-specific sex ratio disturbance where 2.5 male probands were found for each female proband. Classification of MII cases based on the position of the exchange event suggested that the proband sex ratio disturbance was restricted to non-telomeric exchange cases. Based on these findings, we propose new models to explain the association between paternally derived trisomy 21 and excessive male probands.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1221-1227
Number of pages7
JournalHuman molecular genetics
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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