Monosomy of the X chromosome is the most frequent genetic abnormality in human as it is present in approximately 2% of all conceptions, although 99% of these embryos are spontaneously miscarried. In postnatal life, clinical features of Turner syndrome may include typical dysmorphic stigmata, short stature, sexual infantilism, and renal, cardiac, skeletal, endocrine and metabolic abnormalities.
Turner syndrome is due to a partial or total loss of the second sexual chromosome, resulting in the development of highly variable clinical features. This phenotype may not merely be due to genomic imbalance from deleted genes but may also result from additive influences on associated genes within a given gene network, with an altered regulation of gene expression triggered by the absence of the second sex chromosome. Current studies in human and mouse models have demonstrated that this chromosomal abnormality leads to epigenetic changes, including differential DNA methylation in specific groups of downstream target genes in pathways associated with several clinical and metabolic features, mostly on autosomal chromosomes. In this article, we begin exploring the potential involvement of both genetic and epigenetic factors in the origin of X chromosome monosomy. We review the dispute between the meiotic and post-zygotic origins of 45,X monosomy, by mainly analyzing the findings from several studies that compare gene expression of the 45,X monosomy to their euploid and/or 47,XXX trisomic cell counterparts on peripheral blood mononuclear cells, amniotic fluid, human fibroblast cells, and induced pluripotent human cell lines. From these studies, a profile of epigenetic changes seems to emerge in response to chromosomal imbalance. An interesting finding of all these studies is that methylation-based and expression-based pathway analyses are complementary, rather than overlapping, and are correlated with the clinical picture displayed by TS subjects.