Trisomy of chromosome 21, the genetic cause of Down syndrome, has the potential to alter expression of genes on chromosome 21, as well as other locations throughout the genome. These transcriptome changes are likely to underlie the Down syndrome clinical phenotypes. We have employed RNA-seq to undertake an in-depth analysis of transcriptome changes resulting from trisomy of chromosome 21, using induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) derived from a single individual with Down syndrome. These cells were originally derived by Li et al, who genetically targeted chromosome 21 in trisomic iPSCs, allowing selection of disomic sibling iPSC clones. Analyses were conducted on trisomic/disomic cell pairs maintained as iPSCs or differentiated into cortical neuronal cultures. In addition to characterization of gene expression levels, we have also investigated patterns of RNA adenosine-to-inosine editing, alternative splicing, and repetitive element expression, aspects of the transcriptome that have not been significantly characterized in the context of Down syndrome. We identified significant changes in transcript accumulation associated with chromosome 21 trisomy, as well as changes in alternative splicing and repetitive element transcripts. Unexpectedly, the trisomic iPSCs we characterized expressed higher levels of neuronal transcripts than control disomic iPSCs, and readily differentiated into cortical neurons, in contrast to another reported study. Comparison of our transcriptome data with similar studies of trisomic iPSCs suggests that trisomy of chromosome 21 may not intrinsically limit neuronal differentiation, but instead may interfere with the maintenance of pluripotency.
Gonzales, P. K., Roberts, C. M., Fonte, V., Jacobsen, C., Stein, G. H., & Link, C. D. (2018). Transcriptome analysis of genetically matched human induced pluripotent stem cells disomic or trisomic for chromosome 21. PLoS ONE, 13(3). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0194581