Humans normally have 46 chromosomes in each cell, divided into 23 pairs. Two copies of chromosome 21, one copy inherited from each parent, form one of the pairs. Chromosome 21 is the smallest human chromosome, spanning about 47 million base pairs (the building blocks of DNA) and representing approximately 1.5 percent of the total DNA in cells.
In 2000, researchers working on the Human Genome Project announced that they had determined the sequence of base pairs that make up this chromosome. Chromosome 21 was the second human chromosome to be fully sequenced.
Identifying genes on each chromosome is an active area of genetic research. Because researchers use different approaches to predict the number of genes on each chromosome, the estimated number of genes varies. Chromosome 21 likely contains between 300 and 400 genes.
Genes on chromosome 21 are among the estimated 20,000 to 25,000 total genes in the human genome.
A study reveals the genetic factors that may expose or protect people with Down syndrome from SARS-CoV-2 infection, as well as the prognosis of COVID-19.