Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Human Genetics

First Advisor

Colleen Jackson-Cook


The primary aim of this study was to determine the effectiveness of array-based technology for detecting and quantifying the presence of mosaicism. This aim was achieved by studying individuals having mosaicism for Down syndrome. SNP arrays were performed on 13 samples from individuals with mosaicism for trisomy 21, 13 samples from individuals with normal chromosome 21complements (negative controls) and 5 samples from individuals with full or partial trisomy 21 (positive controls). In addition, BAC arrays were processed on 6 samples from individuals with mosaicism for trisomy 21, 3 negative controls and 1 positive control. These studies have shown that array-based technology is effective for detecting mosaicism that is present in 20% or more cells with the results being consistent for both platforms. We also demonstrated the strength of array-based technology to identify previously unrecognized chromosomal mosaicism. A second aim of this study was to gain insight regarding the effect that trisomy 21 has on telomere attrition and the frequency of chromosomal instability. This study provides the first reported measure of both chromosome-specific telomere lengths and the frequency of acquired chromosome abnormalities in trisomic cells and isogenic euploid cells obtained from the same individuals. A chromosome-specific telomere length assay was performed on lymphocytes obtained from 24 young individuals with mosaicism for Down syndrome. While differences in overall telomere signal intensities were observed between the euploid and trisomic cells within a person, strikingly similar profiles for chromosome-specific telomere intensities were observed between the cell types within a person. Analyses were also completed on lymphoblast samples obtained from 8 older individuals with mosaicism for Down syndrome, including 5 individuals without dementia and 3 individuals with dementia. In the older study subjects, a significant inverse correlation was observed between telomere length and the frequency of micronuclei, suggesting that telomeric shortening is leading to an increased frequency of chromosomal instability, possibly through dicentric chromosome formation. However, further studies of more individuals, especially additional analyses of older individuals, are needed. These future studies may help to identify genomic regions of interest and serve to inform investigators of potential candidate genes in the etiology of dementia.


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Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

August 2011