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13.1d disorders in chromosome number

Of all of the chromosomal disorders, abnormalities in chromosome number are the most obviously identifiable from a karyogram. Disorders of chromosome number include the duplication or loss of entire chromosomes, as well as changes in the number of complete sets of chromosomes. They are caused by nondisjunction     , which occurs when pairs of homologous chromosomes or sister chromatids fail to separate during meiosis. Misaligned or incomplete synapsis, or a dysfunction of the spindle apparatus that facilitates chromosome migration, can cause nondisjunction. The risk of nondisjunction occurring increases with the age of the parents.

Nondisjunction can occur during either meiosis I or II, with differing results ( [link] ). If homologous chromosomes fail to separate during meiosis I, the result is two gametes that lack that particular chromosome and two gametes with two copies of the chromosome. If sister chromatids fail to separate during meiosis II, the result is one gamete that lacks that chromosome, two normal gametes with one copy of the chromosome, and one gamete with two copies of the chromosome.

Art connection

This illustration shows nondisjunction that occurs during meiosis I. Nondisjunction during meiosis I occurs when a homologous pair fails to separate, and results in two gametes with n + 1 chromosomes, and two gametes with n − 1 chromosomes. Nondisjunction during meiosis II would occur when sister chromatids fail to separate, and results in one gamete with n + 1 chromosomes, one gamete with n − 1 chromosomes, and two normal gametes.
Nondisjunction occurs when homologous chromosomes or sister chromatids fail to separate during meiosis, resulting in an abnormal chromosome number. Nondisjunction may occur during meiosis I or meiosis II.

Which of the following statements about nondisjunction is true?

  1. Nondisjunction only results in gametes with n+1 or n–1 chromosomes.
  2. Nondisjunction occurring during meiosis II results in 50 percent normal gametes.
  3. Nondisjunction during meiosis I results in 50 percent normal gametes.
  4. Nondisjunction always results in four different kinds of gametes.

13.1e aneuploidy

An individual with the appropriate number of chromosomes for their species is called euploid     ; in humans, euploidy corresponds to 22 pairs of autosomes and one pair of sex chromosomes. An individual with an error in chromosome number is described as aneuploid     , a term that includes monosomy     (loss of one chromosome) or trisomy     (gain of an extraneous chromosome). Monosomic human zygotes missing any one copy of an autosome invariably fail to develop to birth because they lack essential genes. This underscores the importance of “gene dosage” in humans. Most autosomal trisomies also fail to develop to birth; however, duplications of some of the smaller chromosomes (13, 15, 18, 21, or 22) can result in offspring that survive for several weeks to many years. Trisomic individuals suffer from a different type of genetic imbalance: an excess in gene dose. Individuals with an extra chromosome may synthesize an abundance of the gene products encoded by that chromosome. This extra dose (150 percent) of specific genes can lead to a number of functional challenges and often precludes development. The most common trisomy among viable births is that of chromosome 21, which corresponds to Down Syndrome. Individuals with this inherited disorder are characterized by short stature and stunted digits, facial distinctions that include a broad skull and large tongue, and significant developmental delays. The incidence of Down syndrome is correlated with maternal age; older women are more likely to become pregnant with fetuses carrying the trisomy 21 genotype ( [link] ).

 This graph shows the risk of Down syndrome in the fetus with increasing maternal age. Risk dramatically increases past a maternal age of 35.
The incidence of having a fetus with trisomy 21 increases dramatically with maternal age.

Visualize the addition of a chromosome that leads to Down syndrome in this video simulation .

13.1f polyploidy

An individual with more than the correct number of chromosome sets (two for diploid species) is called polyploid     . For instance, fertilization of an abnormal diploid egg with a normal haploid sperm would yield a triploid zygote. Polyploid animals are extremely rare, with only a few examples among the flatworms, crustaceans, amphibians, fish, and lizards. Polyploid animals are sterile because meiosis cannot proceed normally and instead produces mostly aneuploid daughter cells that cannot yield viable zygotes. Rarely, polyploid animals can reproduce asexually by haplodiploidy, in which an unfertilized egg divides mitotically to produce offspring. In contrast, polyploidy is very common in the plant kingdom, and polyploid plants tend to be larger and more robust than euploids of their species ( [link] ).

 Photo shows an orange daylily
As with many polyploid plants, this triploid orange daylily ( Hemerocallis fulva ) is particularly large and robust, and grows flowers with triple the number of petals of its diploid counterparts. (credit: Steve Karg)

Section summary

The number, size, shape, and banding pattern of chromosomes make them easily identifiable in a karyogram and allows for the assessment of many chromosomal abnormalities. Disorders in chromosome number, or aneuploidies, are typically lethal to the embryo, although a few trisomic genotypes are viable. Because of X inactivation, aberrations in sex chromosomes typically have milder phenotypic effects. Aneuploidies also include instances in which segments of a chromosome are duplicated or deleted. Chromosome structures may also be rearranged, for example by inversion or translocation. Both of these aberrations can result in problematic phenotypic effects. Because they force chromosomes to assume unnatural topologies during meiosis, inversions and translocations are often associated with reduced fertility because of the likelihood of nondisjunction.

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Source:  OpenStax, General biology part i - mixed majors. OpenStax CNX. May 16, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11749/1.5
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