Purdue University Graduate School
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posted on 2021-08-06, 13:58 authored by Jonathan Mark LaCombeJonathan Mark LaCombe

Down syndrome (DS) is a complex genetic disorder caused by the triplication of human chromosome 21 (Hsa21). The presence of an extra copy of an entire chromosome greatly disrupts the copy number and expression of over 350 protein coding genes. This gene dosage imbalance has far-reaching effects on normal development and aging, leading to cognitive and skeletal defects that emerge earlier in life than the general population.

The present study begins by characterizing skeletal development in young male Ts65Dn mice to test the hypothesis that skeletal defects in male Ts65Dn mice are developmental in nature.Femurs from young mice ranging from postnatal day 12- to 42-days of age (P12-42) were measured and analyzed by microcomputed tomography (μCT). Cortical defects were present generally throughout development, but trabecular defects emerged at P30 and persisted until P42.

The gene Dual-specificity tyrosine-regulated kinase 1a (Dyrk1a) is triplicated in both DS and in Ts65Dn mice and has been implicated as a putative cause of both cognitive and skeletal defects. To test the hypothesis that trisomic Dyrk1a is related to the emergence of trabecular defects at P30, expression of Dyrk1a in the femurs of male Ts65Dn mice was quantified by qPCR. Expression was shown to fluctuate throughout development and overexpression generally aligned with the emergence of trabecular defects at P30.

The growth rate in trabecular measures between male Ts65Dn and euploid littermates was similar between P30 and P42, suggesting a closer look into cellular mechanisms at P42. Assessment of proliferation of BMSCs, differentiation and activity of osteoblasts showed no significant differences between Ts65Dn and euploid cellular activity, suggesting that the cellular microenvironment has a greater influence on cellular activity than genetic background.

These data led to the hypothesis that reduction of Dyrk1a gene expression and pharmacological inhibition of DYRK1A could be executed during a critical period to prevent the emergence of trabecular defects at P30. To tests this hypothesis, doxycycline-induced cre-lox recombination to reduce Dyrk1a gene copy number or the DYRK1A inhibitor CX-4945 began at P21. The results of both genetic and pharmacological interventions suggest that trisomic Dyrk1a does not influence the emergence of trabecular defects up to P30. Instead, data suggest that the critical window for the rescue of trabecular defects lies between P30 and P42.


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Biological Sciences

Campus location

  • Indianapolis

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Randall Roper

Additional Committee Member 2

Charles Goodlett

Additional Committee Member 3

Jiliang Li

Additional Committee Member 4

Joseph Wallace

Additional Committee Member 5

Jason Meyer