Down syndrome: genetic recombination and the origin of the extra chromosome 21

Clin Genet. 2000 Feb;57(2):95-100. doi: 10.1034/j.1399-0004.2000.570201.x.


Despite the clinical importance of trisomy 21, we have been ignorant of the causes of meiotic nondisjunction of chromosome 21. Recently, however, genetic mapping studies of trisomy 21 families have led to the identification of the first molecular correlate of human nondisjunction; i.e. altered levels and positioning of meiotic recombinational events. Specifically, increases in 0 exchange events or in distal-only or pericentromeric exchanges are significantly increased in trisomy 21-generating meioses. These observations have led to the idea that chromosome 21 nondisjunction requires 'two hits': first, the establishment in prophase I of a 'vulnerable' bivalent and second, abnormal processing of the bivalent at metaphase I or II.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 21*
  • Down Syndrome / genetics*
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Maternal Age
  • Nondisjunction, Genetic
  • Recombination, Genetic*
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Trisomy