The burden of trisomy 21 disrupts the proteostasis network in Down syndrome

PLoS One. 2017 Apr 21;12(4):e0176307. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0176307. eCollection 2017.


Down syndrome (DS) is a genetic disorder caused by trisomy of chromosome 21. Abnormalities in chromosome number have the potential to lead to disruption of the proteostasis network (PN) and accumulation of misfolded proteins. DS individuals suffer from several comorbidities, and we hypothesized that disruption of proteostasis could contribute to the observed pathology and decreased cell viability in DS. Our results confirm the presence of a disrupted PN in DS, as several of its elements, including the unfolded protein response, chaperone system, and proteasomal degradation exhibited significant alterations compared to euploid controls in both cell and mouse models. Additionally, when cell models were treated with compounds that promote disrupted proteostasis, we observed diminished levels of cell viability in DS compared to controls. Collectively our findings provide a cellular-level characterization of PN dysfunction in DS and an improved understanding of the potential pathogenic mechanisms contributing to disrupted cellular physiology in DS. Lastly, this study highlights the future potential of designing therapeutic strategies that mitigate protein quality control dysfunction.

MeSH terms

  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 21
  • Down Syndrome / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Proteostasis Deficiencies / genetics*
  • Trisomy*