Unique Signatures of Natural Background Radiation on Human Y Chromosomes from Kerala, India

Molecular Genetics Laboratory, National Institute of Immunology, Aruna Asaf Ali Marg, New Delhi, India.
PLoS ONE (Impact Factor: 3.23). 02/2009; 4(2):e4541. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0004541
Source: PubMed


The most frequently observed major consequences of ionizing radiation are chromosomal lesions and cancers, although the entire genome may be affected. Owing to its haploid status and absence of recombination, the human Y chromosome is an ideal candidate to be assessed for possible genetic alterations induced by ionizing radiation. We studied the human Y chromosome in 390 males from the South Indian state of Kerala, where the level of natural background radiation (NBR) is ten-fold higher than the worldwide average, and that from 790 unexposed males as control.
We observed random microdeletions in the Azoospermia factor (AZF) a, b and c regions in >90%, and tandem duplication and copy number polymorphism (CNP) of 11 different Y-linked genes in about 80% of males exposed to NBR. The autosomal homologues of Y-linked CDY genes largely remained unaffected. Multiple polymorphic copies of the Y-linked genes showing single Y-specific signals suggested their tandem duplication. Some exposed males showed unilocus duplication of DAZ genes resulting in six copies. Notably, in the AZFa region, approximately 25% of exposed males showed deletion of the DBY gene, whereas flanking genes USP9Y and UTY remained unaffected. All these alterations were detected in blood samples but not in the germline (sperm) samples.
Exposure to high levels of NBR correlated with several interstitial polymorphisms of the human Y chromosome. CNPs and enhanced transcription of the SRY gene after duplication are envisaged to compensate for the loss of Y chromosome in some cells. The aforesaid changes, confined to peripheral blood lymphocytes, suggest a possible innate mechanism protecting the germline DNA from the NBR. Genome analysis of a larger population focusing on greater numbers of genes may provide new insights into the mechanisms and risks of the resultant genetic damages. The present work demonstrates unique signatures of NBR on human Y chromosomes from Kerala, India.

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    • "In our earlier reports in males exposed to natural background radiation showed a similar pattern but the occurrence of genetical changes was at a higher frequency [36]. In our study, deletion was restricted to provirus B region (see figure 2) which is due to the presence of short stretches of homologous sequences [36]. These changes are attributed to the effect of arsenic exposure since the unexposed samples lack such deletions. "
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    • "Under normal conditions, these are essentially the product of homologous recombination between sequences sharing identical polarity (Lupski and Stankiewicz, 2005; Turner et al., 2008). Nevertheless, in populations subjected to high levels of natural background radiation, less extensive AZFc deletions (arising from the frequent occurrence of DNA lesions) are relatively commonplace (Premi et al., 2009). The clinical significance of AZFc deletions becomes evident when considering that they not only represent one of the most frequent copy-number variants in the human genome, but also that they can decisively impact male fertility (Vogt, 2004; Krausz and Degl'Innocenti, 2006; Noordam and Repping, 2006; Tyler-Smith, 2008). "
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    ABSTRACT: The three azoospermia factor (AZF) regions of the Y chromosome represent genomic niches for spermatogenesis genes. Yet, the most distal region, AZFc, is a major generator of large-scale variation in the human genome. Determining to what extent this variability affects spermatogenesis is a highly contentious topic in human reproduction. In this review, an extensive characterization of the molecular mechanisms responsible for AZFc genotypical variation is undertaken. Such data are complemented with the assessment of the clinical consequences for male fertility imputable to the different AZFc variants. For this, a critical re-evaluation of 23 association studies was performed in order to extract unifying conclusions by curtailing methodological heterogeneities. Intrachromosomal homologous recombination mechanisms, either crossover or non-crossover based, are the main drivers for AZFc genetic diversity. In particular, rearrangements affecting gene dosage are the most likely to introduce phenotypical disruptions in the spermatogenic profile. In the specific cases of partial AZFc deletions, both the actual existence and the severity of the spermatogenic defect are dependent on the evolutionary background of the Y chromosome. AZFc is one of the most genetically dynamic regions in the human genome. This property may serve as counter against the genetic degeneracy associated with the lack of a meiotic partner. However, such strategy comes at a price: some rearrangements represent a risk factor or a de-facto causative agent of spermatogenic disruption. Interestingly, this precarious balance is modulated, among other yet unknown factors, by the evolutionary history of the Y chromosome.
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    ABSTRACT: Owing to clonal inheritance, haploid status and lack of recombination, structural polymorphism in the human Y chromosome is more prevalent than that in the remaining parts of the genome. We studied structural organization of the AZFc region, assessed microdeletions therein and studied copy number variation (CNV) of several candidate genes in 750 Indian males. FISH mapping of 13 Y-specific BAC/cosmid clones uncovered a hitherto unreported AZFc configuration showing inter-DAZ gene sequence onto the Yp instead of Yq region. Such inter-DAZ gene arrangements were also detected in five German males (European Y). In 40-50% males, partial u3 and one of the green amplicons, g1, g2 or g3 was present on the Yp in addition to Yq, suggesting an alteration in the IR3 region. Among other AZFc candidates, complete TTY3 and partial CDY1 BAC sequences were detected on the proximal 5p and distal 15q regions, respectively, in both the sexes. However, primers deduced from these clones showed male specific amplification of TTY3 and CDY1 exons suggesting (re)organization of their flanking sequences between Y and autosomes. Importantly, approximately 5% males showed CNV of various Y-linked genes, and approximately 3%, random microdeletions across the AZF region. Present study demonstrates hitherto unreported singular structural organization with respect to DAZ, TTY3 and CDY1 genes highlighting organizational complexities of the human Y chromosome in the global context.
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