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Clinical Chemistry

Year: 2010  |  Volume: 56  |  Issue: 1  |  Page No.: 90 - 98

Noninvasive Prenatal Detection of Trisomy 21 by an Epigenetic-Genetic Chromosome-Dosage Approach

Y. K Tong, S Jin, R. W.K Chiu, C Ding, K.C. A Chan, T. Y Leung, L Yu, T. K Lau and Y.M. D. Lo

Abstract

Background: The use of fetal DNA in maternal plasma for noninvasive prenatal diagnosis of trisomy 21 (T21) is an actively researched area. We propose a novel method of T21 detection that combines fetal-specific epigenetic and genetic markers.

Methods: We used combined bisulfite restriction analysis to search for fetal DNA markers on chromosome 21 that were differentially methylated in the placenta and maternal blood cells and confirmed any target locus with bisulfite sequencing. We then used methylation-sensitive restriction endonuclease digestion followed by microfluidics digital PCR analysis to investigate the identified marker. Chromosome-dosage analysis was performed by comparing the dosage of this epigenetic marker with that of the ZFY (zinc finger protein, Y-linked) gene on chromosome Y.

Results: The putative promoter of the HLCS (holocarboxylase synthetase) gene was hypermethylated in the placenta and hypomethylated in maternal blood cells. A chromosome-dosage comparison of the hypermethylated HLCS and ZFY loci could distinguish samples of T21 and euploid placental DNA. Twenty-four maternal plasma samples from euploid pregnancies and 5 maternal plasma samples from T21 pregnancies were analyzed. All but 1 of the euploid samples were correctly classified.

Conclusions: The epigenetic–genetic chromosome-dosage approach is a new method for noninvasive prenatal detection of T21. The epigenetic part of the analysis can be applied to all pregnancies. Because the genetic part of the analysis uses paternally inherited, fetal-specific genetic markers that are abundant in the genome, broad population coverage should be readily achievable. This approach has the potential to become a generally usable technique for noninvasive prenatal diagnosis.

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