The meiotic stage of nondisjunction in trisomy 21: Determination by using DNA polymorphisms

S. E. Antonarakis, M. B. Petersen, M. G. McInnis, P. A. Adelsberger, A. A. Schinzel, F. Binkert, C. Pangalos, O. Raoul, S. A. Slaugenhaupt, M. Hafez, M. M. Cohen, D. Roulson, S. Schwartz, M. Mikkelsen, L. Tranebjaerg, F. Greenberg, D. I. Hoar, N. L. Rudd, A. C. Warren

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157 Scopus citations


We have studied DNA polymorphisms at loci in the pericentromeric region on the long arm of chromosome 21 in 200 families with trisomy 21, in order to determine the meiotic origin of nondisjunction. Maintenance of heterozygosity for parental markers in the individual with trisomy 21 was interpreted as resulting from a meiosis I error, while reduction to homozygosity was attributed to a meiosis II error. Nondisjunction was paternal in 9 cases and was maternal in 188 cases, as reported earlier. Among the 188 maternal cases, nondisjunction occurred in meiosis I in 128 cases and in meiosis II in 38 cases; in 22 cases the DNA markers used were uninformative. Therefore meiosis I was responsible for 77.1% and meiosis II for 22.9% of maternal nondisjunction. Among the 9 paternal nondisjunction cases the error occurred in meiosis I in 2 cases (22.2%) and in meiosis II in 7 (77.8%) cases. Since there was no significant difference in the distribution of maternal ages between maternal I error versus maternal II error, it is unlikely that an error at a particular meiotic stage contributes significantly to the increasing incidence of Down syndrome with advancing maternal age. Although the DNA polymorphisms used were at loci which map close to the centromere, it is likely that rare errors in meiotic-origin assignments may have occurred because of a small number of crossovers between the markers and the centromere. Analysis of these polymorphisms may provide a more accurate understanding of the meiotic stage of nondisjunction in trisomy 21 than that previously provided by chromosomal heteromorphisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)544-550
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican journal of human genetics
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1992
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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