Academic journal article Genetics

Phenotypic Consequences of Aneuploidy in Arabidopsis Thaliana

Academic journal article Genetics

Phenotypic Consequences of Aneuploidy in Arabidopsis Thaliana

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Aneuploid cells are characterized by incomplete chromosome sets. The resulting imbalance in gene dosage has phenotypic consequences that are specific to each karyotype. Even in the case of Down syndrome, the most viable and studied form of human aneuploidy, the mechanisms underlying the connected phenotypes remain mostly unclear. Because of their tolerance to aneuploidy, plants provide a powerful system for a genome-wide investigation of aneuploid syndromes, an approach that is not feasible in animal systems. Indeed, in many plant species, populations of aneuploid individuals can be easily obtained from triploid individuals. We phenotyped a population of Arabidopsis thaliana aneuploid individuals containing 25 different karyotypes. Even in this highly heterogeneous population, we demonstrate that certain traits are strongly associated with the dosage of specific chromosome types and that chromosomal effects can be additive. Further, we identified subtle developmental phenotypes expressed in the diploid progeny of aneuploid parent(s) but not in euploid controls from diploid lineages. These results indicate long-term phenotypic consequences of aneuploidy that can persist after chromosomal balance has been restored. We verified the diploid nature of these individuals by whole-genome sequencing and discuss the possibility that trans-generational phenotypic effects stem from epigenetic modifications passed from aneuploid parents to their diploid progeny.

THE genome of aneuploid individuals contains incomplete chromosome sets. The balance between chromosome types, and the genes they encode, is compromised, resulting in altered expression of many genes, including genes with dosage-sensitive effects on phenotypes. In humans, only a few types of aneuploid karyotypes are viable (Hassold and Hunt 2001), highlighting the deleterious effect of chromosome imbalance. The most commonly known viable form of aneuploidy in humans is Down syndrome, which results from a trisomy of chromosome 21 in an otherwise diploid background. Down syndrome patients exhibit many specific phenotypes, sometimes visible only in a subset of patients (Antonarakis et al. 2004). For phenotypes found in all Down syndrome patients, the penetrance of each phenotype varies between patients (Antonarakis et al. 2004). Despite the increasing amount of information available about the human genome and the availability of a mouse model for Down syndrome (O'Doherty et al. 2005), the genes responsible for most of the phenotypes associated with Down syndrome are still unknown (Patterson 2007; Korbel et al. 2009; Patterson 2009). Recently, detailed phenotypic analyses of as many as 30 aneuploid patients have allowed the identification of susceptibility regions for several specific phenotypes (Patterson 2007, 2009; Korbel et al. 2009; Lyle et al. 2009), but the specific genes remain to be identified. Understanding the physiology of aneuploidy is not only relevant to those individuals with aneuploid genomes but also to understanding cancer since most cancerous cells are aneuploid (Matzke et al. 2003; Pihan and Doxsey 2003; Storchova and Pellman 2004; Holland and Cleveland 2009; Williams and Amon 2009) or the consequences of copy number variation and dosage sensitivity (Dear 2009; Henrichsen et al. 2009).

Plants are more tolerant of aneuploidy than animals (Matzke et al. 2003) for reasons that remain unclear. Since the discovery of the Datura trisomic "chromosome mutants" by Blakeslee (1921, 1922), viable trisomics of each chromosome type have been described in numerous species. Trisomics exhibit phenotypes specific to the identity of the triplicated chromosome(Blakeslee 1922; Khush 1973; Koornneef and Van der Veen 1983; Singh 2003). More complex aneuploids, i.e., individuals carryingmore than one additional chromosome, can be viable as well and have been observed in many plants species, especially among the progeny of triploid individuals (McClintock 1929; Levan 1942; Johnsson 1945; Khush 1973). …

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