The origin of the additional chromosome in 26 trisomy 16 spontaneous abortions was studied using DNA probes for chromosome 16, including a probe for centromeric alpha sequences. We were able to determine the parent and meiotic stage of origin of trisomy in 22 cases, with all being attributable to maternal meiosis I non-disjunction. Furthermore, in each of the remaining four cases the results were compatible with this origin. Thus, it is likely that the high incidence of trisomy 16 results from an abnormal process acting at maternal meiosis I which more frequently involves chromosome 16 than other similar sized chromosomes. In studies of recombination, we found little evidence for an association between reduced or absent recombination and chromosome 16 non-disjunction; however, we were unable to rule out an effect of hyperrecombination.
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