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Genet Med. 2001 Mar-Apr;3(2):91-101.

Down syndrome congenital heart disease: a narrowed region and a candidate gene.

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  • 1Department of Medical Genetics, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and UCLA, Los Angeles, California, USA.



Down syndrome (DS) is a major cause of congenital heart disease (CHD) and the most frequent known cause of atrioventricular septal defects (AVSDs). Molecular studies of rare individuals with CHD and partial duplications of chromosome 21 established a candidate region that included D21S55 through the telomere. We now report human molecular and cardiac data that narrow the DS-CHD region, excluding two candidate regions, and propose DSCAM (Down syndrome cell adhesion molecule) as a candidate gene.


A panel of 19 individuals with partial trisomy 21 was evaluated using quantitative Southern blot dosage analysis and fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) with subsets of 32 BACs spanning the region defined by D21S16 (21q11.2) through the telomere. These BACs span the molecular markers D21S55, ERG, ETS2, MX1/2, collagen XVIII and collagen VI A1/A2. Fourteen individuals are duplicated for the candidate region, of whom eight (57%) have the characteristic spectrum of DS-CHD.


Combining the results from these eight individuals suggests the candidate region for DS-CHD is demarcated by D21S3 (defined by ventricular septal defect), through PFKL (defined by tetralogy of Fallot).


These data suggest that the presence of three copies of gene(s) from the region is sufficient for the production of subsets of DS-CHD. This region does not include genes located near D21S55, previously proposed as a "DS critical region," or the genes encoding collagens VI and XVIII. Of the potential gene candidates in the narrowed DS-CHD region, DSCAM is notable in that it encodes a cell adhesion molecule, spans more than 840 kb of the candidate region, and is expressed in the heart during cardiac development. Given these properties, we propose DSCAM as a candidate for DS-CHD.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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