Authors: Francesca Antonaros, Rossella Zenatelli, Giulia Guerri, Matteo Bertelli, Chiara Locatelli, Beatrice Vione, Francesca Catapano, Alice Gori, Lorenza Vitale, Maria Chiara Pelleri, Giuseppe Ramacieri, Guido Cocchi, Pierluigi Strippoli, Maria Caracausi & Allison Piovesan


  • Department of Experimental, Diagnostic and Specialty Medicine (DIMES), Unit of Histology, Embryology and Applied Biology, University of Bologna, Via Belmeloro 8, 40126, Bologna, BO, Italy
  • MAGI’S Lab, Via delle Maioliche 57/D, 38068, Rovereto, TN, Italy
  • Neonatology Unit, St. Orsola-Malpighi Polyclinic, Via Massarenti 9, 40138, Bologna, BO, Italy

Publication: Human Genetics

Date: May 2021

Full paper: The transcriptome profile of human trisomy 21 blood cells


Trisomy 21 (T21) is a genetic alteration characterised by the presence of an extra full or partial human chromosome 21 (Hsa21) leading to Down syndrome (DS), the most common form of intellectual disability (ID). It is broadly agreed that the presence of extra genetic material in T21 gives origin to an altered expression of genes located on Hsa21 leading to DS phenotype. The aim of this study was to analyse T21 and normal control blood cell gene expression profiles obtained by total RNA sequencing (RNA-Seq).

The results were elaborated by the TRAM (Transcriptome Mapper) software which generated a differential transcriptome map between human T21 and normal control blood cells providing the gene expression ratios for 17,867 loci. The obtained gene expression profiles were validated through real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay and compared with previously published data. A post-analysis through transcriptome mapping allowed the identification of the segmental (regional) variation of the expression level across the whole genome (segment-based analysis of expression). Interestingly, the most over-expressed genes encode for interferon-induced proteins, two of them (MX1 and MX2 genes) mapping on Hsa21 (21q22.3). The altered expression of genes involved in mitochondrial translation and energy production also emerged, followed by the altered expression of genes encoding for the folate cycle enzyme, GART, and the folate transporter, SLC19A1.

The alteration of these pathways might be linked and involved in the manifestation of ID in DS.