Uniparental disomy (UPD) can be caused by various genetic mechanisms such as gamete complementation, chromosome duplication in a monosomic zygote or postzygotic aneuploid correction. This latter mechanism has been recently well documented in human reproduction and seems to be strictly related to placental mosaicism. We have therefore studied some aspects of confined placental mosaicism (CPM) which are useful to clarify one of the most common sources of UPD in humans.
Abnormal distribution of chromosomes in postzygotic mitotic cell divisions may result in a mosaic condition with two or more cell lines showing different chromosome constitutions. The effects on fetal phenotype and pregnancy development depend on the chromosomes involved, the distribution of the abnormal cells among tissues and on the precise stage at which chromosome mutation occurs.
As shown in Fig. 1, when the mutational event occurs in the blastocyst, prior to the differentiation of embryonic and chorionic compartments, the mosaicism is found in both the placental and fetal tissues. In contrast, when the chromosome mutation occurs at a later stage, after embryonic and chorionic compartment separation, the abnormal cells may be confined to the placenta or to the embryo, and are not necessarily found in both.