Which Change To The Chromosome Causes Robertsonian Translocation?

Chromosomal abnormalities can have significant impacts on an individual’s health and development. One such abnormality is Robertsonian translocation, a specific type of chromosomal rearrangement that occurs when two acrocentric chromosomes become joined at their centromeres. This fusion creates a single large chromosome, which can have implications for future generations. But what exactly causes Robertsonian translocation? Let’s explore this question in more detail.

**The change to the chromosome that causes Robertsonian translocation is a fusion of two acrocentric chromosomes at their centromeres.**

Acrocentric chromosomes are a type of chromosome with a centromere located very close to one end. In humans, the acrocentric chromosomes are chromosomes 13, 14, 15, 21, and 22. When two acrocentric chromosomes undergo Robertsonian translocation, the short arms of the chromosomes are lost, and the long arms fuse together at the centromere. This fusion results in a single large chromosome with two long arms and no short arms.

**How does Robertsonian translocation occur?**

Robertsonian translocation can occur through a process known as centric fusion. During this process, breaks occur near the centromeres of two acrocentric chromosomes. The broken ends then join together, and any genetic material between these breakpoints is lost. The fused chromosomes form a single, large chromosome with two long arms.

The most common Robertsonian translocation in humans is between chromosomes 13 and 14, known as the 13;14 translocation. It is estimated to occur in about 1 in 1,000 births. Other less common translocations involve chromosomes 14 and 21, chromosomes 14 and 22, and chromosomes 21 and 22.

**What are the implications of Robertsonian translocation?**

When an individual has Robertsonian translocation, they may appear normal and unaffected by the rearrangement. However, the fusion of chromosomes can have consequences when it comes to reproduction. If an individual with Robertsonian translocation has children, there is a potential risk of passing on an unbalanced translocation to their offspring.

Unbalanced translocations occur when the fused chromosome is passed on to the next generation, resulting in an extra or missing piece of genetic material. This can lead to developmental issues, intellectual disabilities, and other health problems in the affected individual.

**Are there any health risks associated with Robertsonian translocation?**

In some cases, individuals with Robertsonian translocation may experience reproductive difficulties. The fused chromosome can interfere with normal chromosome pairings during meiosis, the process of cell division that produces eggs and sperm. This can result in a higher risk of miscarriages, infertility, or the birth of a child with developmental issues.

It’s important for individuals with Robertsonian translocation who are planning to have children to undergo genetic counseling. Genetic counselors can assess the risk of passing on the translocation and provide information about available options, such as prenatal testing or in vitro fertilization with preimplantation genetic testing.


The change to the chromosome that causes Robertsonian translocation is the fusion of two acrocentric chromosomes at their centromeres. This rearrangement can have implications for future generations, as it can lead to unbalanced translocations and an increased risk of developmental issues in offspring. Genetic counseling and testing play an essential role in managing the reproductive risks associated with Robertsonian translocation.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can Robertsonian translocation be detected during prenatal testing?

Yes, prenatal testing can detect Robertsonian translocation. Techniques such as chorionic villus sampling or amniocentesis can be used to analyze the chromosomes of the developing fetus and identify any chromosomal abnormalities, including Robertsonian translocation.

2. Is Robertsonian translocation inherited?

Robertsonian translocation can be inherited. If an individual with Robertsonian translocation has children, there is a chance they may pass on the translocation to their offspring. The risk of inheritance depends on the specific translocation and the sex of the parent carrying the translocation.

3. Can Robertsonian translocation be cured or reversed?

There is currently no cure for Robertsonian translocation. It is a permanent rearrangement of chromosomes that cannot be reversed. However, genetic counseling and testing can help individuals with Robertsonian translocation understand their reproductive risks and make informed decisions about family planning.

Final Thoughts

Understanding the cause of Robertsonian translocation is crucial for individuals and families affected by this chromosomal rearrangement. By knowing how this change to the chromosome occurs, individuals can work with genetic counselors to assess the risk of passing on the translocation and make informed decisions about their reproductive options. With proper guidance and support, individuals with Robertsonian translocation can navigate the complexities of family planning and ensure the best possible outcomes for themselves and their potential children.

Leave a Comment