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PLoS One. 2009;4(1):e4175. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0004175. Epub 2009 Jan 12.

Studying early lethality of 45,XO (Turner's syndrome) embryos using human embryonic stem cells.

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1
Department of Genetics, Silberman Institute of Life Sciences, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel.

Abstract

Turner's syndrome (caused by monosomy of chromosome X) is one of the most common chromosomal abnormalities in females. Although 3% of all pregnancies start with XO embryos, 99% of these pregnancies terminate spontaneously during the first trimester. The common genetic explanation for the early lethality of monosomy X embryos, as well as the phenotype of surviving individuals is haploinsufficiency of pseudoautosomal genes on the X chromosome. Another possible mechanism is null expression of imprinted genes on the X chromosome due to the loss of the expressed allele. In contrast to humans, XO mice are viable, and fertile. Thus, neither cells from patients nor mouse models can be used in order to study the cause of early lethality in XO embryos. Human embryonic stem cells (HESCs) can differentiate in culture into cells from the three embryonic germ layers as well as into extraembryonic cells. These cells have been shown to have great value in modeling human developmental genetic disorders. In order to study the reasons for the early lethality of 45,XO embryos we have isolated HESCs that have spontaneously lost one of their sex chromosomes. To examine the possibility that imprinted genes on the X chromosome play a role in the phenotype of XO embryos, we have identified genes that were no longer expressed in the mutant cells. None of these genes showed a monoallelic expression in XX cells, implying that imprinting is not playing a major role in the phenotype of XO embryos. To suggest an explanation for the embryonic lethality caused by monosomy X, we have differentiated the XO HESCs in vitro an in vivo. DNA microarray analysis of the differentiated cells enabled us to compare the expression of tissue specific genes in XO and XX cells. The tissue that showed the most significant differences between the clones was the placenta. Many placental genes are expressed at much higher levels in XX cells in compare to XO cells. Thus, we suggest that abnormal placental differentiation as a result of haploinsufficiency of X-linked pseudoautosomal genes causes the early lethality in XO human embryos.

PMID:
19137066
PMCID:
PMC2613558
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0004175
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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