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Hum Mol Genet. 2000 Mar 1;9(4):515-23.

Genome-wide variation in recombination in female meiosis: a risk factor for non-disjunction of chromosome 21.

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Department of Genetics, Emory University School of Medicine, 1462 Clifton Road North-East, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA,


Altered recombination patterns along non-disjoined chromosomes is the first molecular correlate identified for non-disjunction in humans. To understand better the factors related to this correlate, we have asked to what extent is recombination altered in an egg with a disomic chromosome: are patterns limited to the non-disjoined chromosome or do they extend to the entire cell? More specifically, we asked whether there is reduced recombination in the total genome of an egg with a non-disjoined chromosome 21 and no detectable recombination. We chose this subclass of non-disjoined chromosomes to enrich potentially for extremes in recombination. We found a statistically significant cell-wide reduction in the mean recombination rate in these eggs with non-disjoined chromosomes 21; no specific chromosomes were driving this effect. Most importantly, we found that this reduction was consistent with normal variation in recombination observed among eggs. Thus, given that recombination is a multifactorial trait, these data suggest that when the number of genome-wide recombination events is less than some threshold, specific chromosomes may be at an increased risk for non-disjunction. Further studies are required to confirm these results, to determine the importance of genetic and environmental factors that regulate recombination and to determine their impact on non-disjunction.

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