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

Am J Hum Genet. 1992 Mar;50(3):544-50.


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 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.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Centromere
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 21*
  • Crossing Over, Genetic / genetics
  • DNA / genetics
  • Down Syndrome / genetics*
  • Female
  • Genetic Linkage / genetics
  • Genetic Markers
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Maternal Age
  • Meiosis / genetics*
  • Nondisjunction, Genetic*
  • Paternal Age
  • Polymorphism, Genetic / genetics*
  • Polymorphism, Restriction Fragment Length


  • Genetic Markers
  • DNA