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SKELETAL DEFICITS IN MALE AND FEMALE MOUSE MODELS OF DOWN SYNDROME
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Down syndrome (DS) is a genetic disorder that results from triplication of human chromosome 21 (Hsa21) and occurs in around 1 in 1000 live births. All individuals with DS present with skeletal abnormalities typified by craniofacial features, short stature and low bone mineral density (BMD). Differences between males and females with DS suggest a sexual dimorphism in how trisomy affects skeletal deficits associated with trisomy 21 (Ts21). Previous investigations of skeletal abnormalities in DS have varied methodology, sample sizes and ages making the underlying causes of deficits uncertain. Mouse models of DS were used to characterize skeletal abnormalities, but the genetic and developmental origin remain unidentified. Over-expression Dyrk1a, found on Hsa21 and mouse chromosome 16 (Mmu16) has been linked to cognitive deficits and skeletal deficiencies. Dp1Tyb mice contain three copies of all of the genes on Mmu16 that are homologous to Hsa21, males and females are fertile, and therefore are an excellent model to test the hypothesis that gene dosage influences the sexual dimorphism of bone abnormalities in DS. Dp1Tyb at 6 weeks 16 weeks showed distinctive abnormalities in BMD, trabecular architecture, and reduced bone strength over time that occur generally through an interaction between sex and genotype. Increased gene dosage and sexual dimorphism in Dp1Tyb mice revealed distinct phenotypes in bone formation and resorption. To assess how Dyrk1a influences the activity and function of osteoblasts Ts65Dn female trisomic mice, female mice with a floxed Dyrk1a gene (Ts65Dn, Dyrk1afl/+) were be bred to Osx1-GFP::Cre+ mice to generate Ts65Dn animals with a reduced copy of Dyrk1a in mature osteoblast cells. Female Ts65Dn,Dyrk1a+/+/+ and Ts65Dn,Dyrk1a+/+/-displayed significant defects in both trabecular architecture and cortical geometry. Ultimate force was reduced in trisomic animals, suggesting whole bone and tissue level properties are not adversely affected by trisomy. Reduction of Dyrk1a functional copy number in female mice did not improve skeletal deficits in an otherwise trisomic animal. Dyrk1a may not alter osteoblast cellular activity in an autonomous manner in trisomic female mice. These data establish sex, gene dosage, skeletal site and age as important factors in skeletal development of the skeleton in DS mice, potentially paving the way for identification of the causal dosage-sensitive genes in both male and female animals.