Down syndrome (DS) is a congenital disorder caused by trisomy 21 (T21). It is associated with cognitive impairment, muscle hypotonia, heart defects, and other clinical anomalies. At the same time, individuals with Down syndrome have lower prevalence of solid tumor formation. To gain new insights into aberrant DS development during early stages of mesoderm formation and its possible connection to lower solid tumor prevalence, we developed the first model of two types of DS iPSC-derived stromal cells. Utilizing bioinformatic and functional analyses, we identified over 100 genes with coordinated expression among mesodermal and endothelial cell types. The most significantly down-regulated processes in DS mesodermal progenitors were associated with decreased stromal progenitor performance related to connective tissue organization as well as muscle development and functionality. The differentially expressed genes included cytoskeleton-related genes (actin and myosin), ECM genes (Collagens, Galectin-1, Fibronectin, Heparan Sulfate, LOX, FAK1), cell cycle genes (USP16, S1P complexes), and DNA damage repair genes. For DS endothelial cells, our analysis revealed most down-regulated genes associated with cellular response to external stimuli, cell migration, and immune response (inflammation-based). Together with functional assays, these results suggest an impairment in mesodermal development capacity during early stages, which likely translates into connective tissue impairment in DS patients. We further determined that, despite differences in functional processes and characteristics, a significant number of differentially regulated genes involved in tumorigenesis were expressed in a highly coordinated manner across endothelial and mesodermal cells. These findings strongly suggest that microRNAs (miR-24-4, miR-21), cytoskeleton remodeling, response to stimuli, and inflammation can impact resistance to tumorigenesis in DS patients. Furthermore, we also show that endothelial cell functionality is impaired, and when combined with angiogenic inhibition, it can provide another mechanism for decreased solid tumor development. We propose that the same processes, which specify the basis of connective tissue impairment observed in DS patients, potentially impart a resistance to cancer by hindering tumor progression and metastasis. We further establish that cancer-related genes on Chromosome 21 are up-regulated, while genome-wide cancer-related genes are down-regulated. These results suggest that trisomy 21 induces a modified regulation and compensation of many biochemical pathways across the genome. Such downstream interactions may contribute toward promoting tumor resistant mechanisms.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes