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Am J Med Genet C Semin Med Genet. 2006 Aug 15;142C(3):196-205.

The proteins of human chromosome 21.

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Eleanor Roosevelt Institute, University of Denver, 1899 Gaylord Street, Denver, Colorado 80206, USA.


Recent genomic sequence annotation suggests that the long arm of human chromosome 21 encodes more than 400 genes. Because there is no evidence to exclude any significant segment of 21 q from containing genes relevant to the Down syndrome (DS) cognitive phenotype, all genes in this entire set must be considered as candidates. Only a subset, however, is likely to make critical contributions. Determining which these are is both a major focus in biology and a critical step in efficient development of therapeutics. The subtle molecular abnormality in DS, the 50% increase in chromosome 21 gene expression, presents significant challenges for researchers in detection and quantitation. Another challenge is the current limitation in understanding gene functions and in interpreting biological characteristics. Here, we review information on chromosome 21-encoded proteins compiled from the literature and from genomics and proteomics databases. For each protein, we summarize their evolutionary conservation, the complexity of their known protein interactions and their level of expression in brain, and discuss the implications and limitations of these data. For a subset, we discuss neurologically relevant phenotypes of mouse models that include knockouts, mutations, or overexpression. Lastly, we highlight a small number of genes for which recent evidence suggests a function in biochemical/cellular pathways that are relevant to cognition. Until knowledge deficits are overcome, we suggest that effective development of gene-phenotype correlations in DS requires a serious and continuous effort to assimilate broad categories of information on chromosome 21 genes, plus the creation of more versatile mouse models.

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