Mutation Research/Reviews in Mutation Research

Published by Elsevier
Online ISSN: 1383-5742
Publications
Article
Telomeres are specialized nucleoproteic complexes localized at the physical ends of linear eukaryotic chromosomes that maintain their stability and integrity. The DNA component of telomeres is characterized by being a G-rich double stranded DNA composed by short fragments tandemly repeated with different sequences depending on the species considered. At the chromosome level, telomeres or, more properly, telomeric repeats--the DNA component of telomeres--can be detected either by using the fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) technique with a DNA or a peptide nucleic acid (PNA) (pan)telomeric probe, i.e., which identifies simultaneously all of the telomeres in a metaphase cell, or by the primed in situ labeling (PRINS) reaction using an oligonucleotide primer complementary to the telomeric DNA repeated sequence. Using these techniques, incomplete chromosome elements, acentric fragments, amplification and translocation of telomeric repeat sequences, telomeric associations and telomeric fusions can be identified. In addition, chromosome orientation (CO)-FISH allows to discriminate between the different types of telomeric fusions, namely telomere-telomere and telomere-DNA double strand break fusions and to detect recombination events at the telomere, i.e., telomeric sister-chromatid exchanges (T-SCE). In this review, we summarize our current knowledge of chromosomal aberrations involving telomeres and interstitial telomeric repeat sequences and their induction by physical and chemical mutagens. Since all of the studies on the induction of these types of aberrations were conducted in mammalian cells, the review will be focused on the chromosomal aberrations involving the TTAGGG sequence, i.e., the telomeric repeat sequence that "caps" the chromosomes of all vertebrate species.
 
Article
The MRN protein complex, consisting of MRE1, RAD50 and NBS1, plays a crucial role in sensing DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs), and it is involved in cell cycle control. This makes the MRN complex an important guard of genome stability. Hypomorphic mutations in NBS1 result in the Nijmegen breakage syndrome (NBS), which is characterized by, among other things, an increased predisposition to malignancies, especially leukemia/lymphoma. Relatives of NBS patients carrying heterozygous mutations are also more prone to cancer development. This review summarizes several studies searching for associations between heterozygous mutations in NBS1, MRE11, and RAD50 and cancer and examining the levels of expression of proteins coded by these genes in tumor tissues. The results indicate that both decreased and increased expression of NBS1 may contribute to tumorigenesis, whereas overexpressed RAD50 has an anti-tumoric effect. MRE11 and RAD50 are also affected in tumors with microsatellite instability. However, the outcomes of association studies, which concerned primarily lymphomas/leukemias and breast cancer, were inconclusive. Heterozygous NBS1 mutations and molecular variants 657del5, I171V, R215W and E185Q were most commonly analyzed. Among these, an association with cancer was found most frequently for 657del5 (in leukemia/lymphoma and breast cancer) and I171V (in leukemia, breast, head and neck and colorectal cancers); however, other studies gave contradictory results. For other NBS1 as well as MRE11 and RAD50 variants, too little data were available to assess their role in cancer risk. Overall, the results suggest that heterozygous MRN complex mutations and molecular variants may contribute only to a limited fraction of tumors. This may be caused by several factors: various frequencies of the variants in specific populations, different criteria used for selection of control groups, possible effects of environmental factors, and potential interactions with variants of other low-risk genes. These issues, as well as the impact of the alterations on protein function, need to be addressed in future studies.
 
Article
Asbestos is the principal etiological factor of malignant mesothelioma (MM), accounting for more than 80% of all tumor cases. However, other co-factors, including genetic susceptibility may play a role in the etiology of this disease, possibly modulating the effects of exposure to asbestos and other carcinogenic mineral fibers. The frequent report of familial clustering was the first indication supporting the involvement of genetic factors. Therefore, we performed an extensive literature search to evaluate existing studies reporting familial cases of MM. Published reports addressing the issue of familial susceptibility to MM have been searched through PubMed using keywords and free text tools. Eighty-two citations were retrieved and 20 of them actually reported a familial cluster of MM. Three more articles were identified through the references. The probability that the observed familial clusters of mesothelioma could have randomly occurred in exposed families was evaluated with the Family History Score Zi (FHSi). The result of this analysis suggested that clustering of MM cases in families exposed to asbestos may be explained with the additional contribution of other familial factors. The FHSi allowed to reject the hypothesis of random occurrence of these clusters with a probability of a first type error ranging between 1 per cent and 1 per billion. The evaluation of the published materials supports the hypothesis that - although familial clustering of MM is largely attributable to shared asbestos exposure - the additional contribution of factors dealing with genetic susceptibility may play a role in the etiology of MM.
 
Article
Exposure to asbestos fibers is a major risk factor for malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM), lung cancer, and other non-neoplastic conditions, such as asbestosis and pleural plaques. However, in the last decade many studies have shown that polymorphism in the genes involved in xenobiotic and oxidative metabolism or in DNA repair processes may play an important role in the etiology and pathogenesis of these diseases. To evaluate the association between diseases linked to asbestos and genetic variability we performed a review of studies on this topic included in the PubMed database. One hundred fifty-nine citations were retrieved; 24 of them met the inclusion criteria and were evaluated in the review. The most commonly studied GSTM1 polymorphism showed for all asbestos-linked diseases an increased risk in association with the null genotype, possibly linked to its role in the conjugation of reactive oxygen species. Studies focused on GSTT1 null and SOD2 Ala16Val polymorphisms gave conflicting results, while promising results came from studies on alpha1-antitrypsin in asbestosis and MPO in lung cancer. Among genetic polymorphisms associated to the risk of MPM, the GSTM1 null genotype and two variant alleles of XRCC1 and XRCC3 showed increased risks in a subset of studies. Results for the NAT2 acetylator status, SOD2 polymorphism and EPHX activity were conflicting. Major limitations in the study design, including the small size of study groups, affected the reliability of these studies. Technical improvements such as the use of high-throughput techniques will help to identify molecular pathways regulated by candidate genes.
 
The principal chromatid and chromosome aberrations that contribute to MN and nucleoplasmic bridge formation in the CBMN cytome assay. Adapted from Savage JRK (2000) Micronuclei: pitfalls and problems. Atlas Genet Cytogenet Oncol Haematol (http://atlasgeneticsoncology.org/Deep/MicronucleiID20016. html).
The known mechanisms by which genotoxic chemicals may induce micronuclei and nucleoplasmic bridges in cytokinesis-blocked lymphocytes. Cen−ve, centromere negative; Cen+ve, centromere positive; NBUD, nuclear buds; NPB, nucleoplasmic bridges; MN, micronuclei; ROS, reactive oxygen species; RNS, reactive nitrogen species. The question mark (?) indicates insufficient knowledge about the mechanism and/or some uncertainty about the connection between the two related events.
The principal chromatid and chromosome aberrations that contribute to MN and nucleoplasmic bridge formation in the CBMN cytome assay.
The stages in the lymphocyte CBMN cytome assay when MN and other nuclear anomalies can be measured in cells exposed in vivo to genotoxicants. Measurements in mononucleated cells prior to completion of mitosis and after mitosis in binucleated cells allows discrimination between MN expressed in vivo and those expressed ex vivo respectively. CYT-B, cytochalasin-B; MN, micronuclei; NBUD, nuclear buds; NPB, nucleoplasmic bridges; PHA, phytohaemagglutinin.
Article
The lymphocyte cytokinesis-block micronucleus (CBMN) assay has been applied in hundreds of in vivo biomonitoring studies of humans exposed to genotoxic chemicals because it allows the measurement of both structural and numerical chromosome aberrations. The CBMN cytome assay version which, apart from measuring micronuclei (MN) already present in cells in vivo or expressed ex vivo, also includes measurement of nucleoplasmic bridges (NPB), nuclear buds (NBUD), necrosis and apoptosis, is also increasingly being used in such studies. Because of the numerous published studies there is now a need to re-evaluate the use of MN and other biomarkers within the lymphocyte CBMN cytome assay as quantitative indicators of exposure to chemical genotoxins and the genetic hazard this may cause. This review has identified some important misconceptions as well as knowledge gaps that need to be addressed to make further progress in the proper application of this promising technique and enable its full potential to be realized. The HUMN project consortium recommends a three pronged approach to further improve the knowledge base and application of the lymphocyte CBMN cytome assay to measure DNA damage in humans exposed to chemical genotoxins: (i) a series of systematic reviews, one for each class of chemical genotoxins, of studies which have investigated the association of in vivo exposure in humans with MN, NPB and NBUD induction in lymphocytes; (ii) a comprehensive analysis of the literature to obtain new insights on the potential mechanisms by which different classes of chemicals may induce MN, NPB and NBUD in vitro and in vivo and (iii) investigation of the potential advantages of using the lymphocyte CBMN cytome assay in conjunction with other promising complementary DNA damage diagnostics to obtain an even more complete assessment of the DNA damage profile induced by in vivo exposure to chemical genotoxins in humans.
 
Article
The micronucleus (MN) assay in exfoliated buccal cells is a useful and minimally invasive method for monitoring genetic damage in humans. This overview has concluded that although MN assay in buccal cells has been used since the 1980s to demonstrate cytogenetic effects of environmental and occupational exposures, lifestyle factors, dietary deficiencies, and different diseases, important knowledge gaps remain about the characteristics of micronuclei and other nuclear abnormalities, the basic biology explaining the appearance of various cell types in buccal mucosa samples and effects of diverse staining procedures and scoring criteria in laboratories around the world. To address these uncertainties, the human micronucleus project (HUMN; see http://www.humn.org) has initiated a new international validation project for the buccal cell MN assay similar to that previously performed using human lymphocytes. Future research should explore sources of variability in the assay (e.g. between laboratories and scorers, as well as inter- and intra-individual differences in subjects), and resolve key technical issues, such as the method of buccal cell staining, optimal criteria for classification of normal and degenerated cells and for scoring micronuclei and other abnormalities. The harmonization and standardization of the buccal MN assay will allow more reliable comparison of the data among human populations and laboratories, evaluation of the assay's performance, and consolidation of its world-wide use for biomonitoring of DNA damage.
 
Estimated mean MN values in buccal cells of healthy controls. Studies whose mean values were in <5% or >95% of the mean frequency distributions were excluded. The solid line shows the overall mean of 0.74% while the dashed lines refer to the SD of the overall mean (0.32 and 1.70, respectively).
Main characteristics of the 30 databases (64 single study datasets) included in the HUMN XL database.
Article
The human buccal micronucleus cytome assay (BMCyt) is one of the most widely used techniques to measure genetic damage in human population studies. Reducing protocol variability, assessing the role of confounders, and estimating a range of reference values are research priorities that will be addressed by the HUMN(XL) collaborative study. The HUMN(XL) project evaluates the impact of host factors, occupation, life-style, disease status, and protocol features on the occurrence of MN in exfoliated buccal cells. In addition, the study will provide a range of reference values for all cytome endpoints. A database of 5424 subjects with buccal MN values obtained from 30 laboratories worldwide was compiled and analyzed to investigate the influence of several conditions affecting MN frequency. Random effects models were mostly used to investigate MN predictors. The estimated spontaneous MN frequency was 0.74‰ (95% CI 0.52-1.05). Only staining among technical features influenced MN frequency, with an abnormal increase for non-DNA-specific stains. No effect of gender was evident, while the trend for age was highly significant (p<0.001). Most occupational exposures and a diagnosis of cancer significantly increased MN and other endpoints frequencies. MN frequency increased in heavy smoking (≥40cig/day, FR=1.37; 95% CI 1.03-.82) and decreased with daily fruit consumption (FR=0.68; 95% CI 0.50-0.91). The results of the HUMN(XL) project identified priorities for validation studies, increased the basic knowledge of the assay, and contributed to the creation of a laboratory network which in perspective may allow the evaluation of disease risk associated with MN frequency.
 
Article
Micronucleus (MN) assay in buccal exfoliated cells is a minimally invasive method for monitoring genetic damage in human populations. Statistical and epidemiological issues related to the design and analysis of studies based on this biomarker are addressed. A systematic review of recent literature on the buccal MN assay has been carried out to provide a state-of-the-art evaluation of how critical topics such as control for confounding, sample size and statistical power, number of cells scored, endpoint selection, and statistical modelling, are considered. In addition, a meta-analysis has been performed to estimate the impact of most common confounders on MN frequency, and to provide a baseline value of MN frequency in the control population. A total number of 63 eligible studies were included in the analysis. Age (98.4%), gender (85.7%), and smoking habit (90.5%) were the most commonly studied confounders. Univariate statistics were estimated in most studies while multivariate analysis was applied only in the 47.6%. Baseline MN frequency in controls was 1.10/1000 cells (95% confidence interval 0.70-1.72), and the relative increment in subjects exposed to genotoxic agents or affected by disease correlated with similar observations in lymphocytes (R(2)=0.74). A minimum number of 4000 cells is recommended to reduce the variability of the MN mean estimates, in contrast with the current practice of scoring only 2000 cells (81% of studies). Poisson or Negative Binomial are the preferred statistical models when more than 2000 cells are scored. Studies scoring smaller numbers of cells should consider the use of statistical models taking into account the excess of zeros, e.g., the Zero Inflated Poisson (ZIP) models. The quality of papers published on the buccal MN assay can be substantially improved, with better consideration of basic issues such as power analysis, control for confounding, choice of the statistical model, and the number of cells to be scored.
 
Article
Determining the migratory and invasive capacity of tumor and stromal cells and clarifying the underlying mechanisms is most relevant for novel strategies in cancer diagnosis, prognosis, drug development and treatment. Here we shortly summarize the different modes of cell travelling and review in vitro methods, which can be used to evaluate migration and invasion. We provide a concise summary of established migration/invasion assays described in the literature, list advantages, limitations and drawbacks, give a tabular overview for convenience and depict the basic principles of the assays graphically. In many cases particular research problems and specific cell types do not leave a choice for a broad variety of usable assays. However, for most standard applications using adherent cells, based on our experience we suggest to use exclusion zone assays to evaluate migration/invasion. We substantiate our choice by demonstrating that the advantages outbalance the drawbacks e.g. the simple setup, the easy readout, the kinetic analysis, the evaluation of cell morphology and the feasibility to perform the assay with standard laboratory equipment. Finally, innovative 3D migration and invasion models including heterotypic cell interactions are discussed. These methods recapitulate the in vivo situation most closely. Results obtained with these assays have already shed new light on cancer cell spreading and potentially will uncover unknown mechanisms.
 
Article
The present review is based on findings from 178 publications retrieved through an extensive search of the MedLine/PubMed database for a 25 years time period (1980-2004) and 10 manually identified papers. Among the cytogenetic biomarkers that are frequently used in field studies, chromosome aberrations (CA) and micronuclei (MN) but not sister chromatid exchanges (SCE) were found consistently increased in children exposed to environmental pollutants. Meta-analysis of the studies reporting SCE in cord blood showed similar levels of SCE in exposed and in non-exposed newborns. Exposure to airborne pollutants, soil and drinking water contaminants, mostly increased CA and, to a lesser extent, MN levels in children. The effect of exposure to airborne urban pollutants was consistently reported by field studies measuring DNA, albumin and hemoglobin adducts. Prenatal (in utero) and postnatal exposure (environmental tobacco smoke, ETS) to tobacco smoke compounds were associated with increased frequencies of DNA and hemoglobin adducts and CA. The limited number of field studies measuring DNA fragmentation (Comet assay), hypoxanthine-guanine phosphoribosyltransferase (HPRT) and the glycophorinA (GPA) mutation frequency in environmentally exposed children precluded a meaningful evaluation of the usefulness of these assays. Meta-analyses performed in children exposed to ETS and in newborns exposed in utero to their mothers' smoke showed 1.3 and 7 times higher levels of hemoglobin adducts compared to referent subjects, respectively. These increases are consistent with the epidemiological evidence of higher lung cancer risks reported in adults who had never smoked and were exposed to ETS during childhood and with 7-15 times higher lung cancer risks reported in smokers than in non-smokers. Higher levels of PAH-DNA adducts were found in fetal than in maternal tissue, suggesting a specific susceptibility of the fetus to this class of ubiquitous environmental pollutants. According to these findings, future research and biomonitoring programs on children would greatly benefit from the inclusion of selected biomarkers that could provide biologically based evidence for the identification of intervention priorities in environmental health.
 
Article
In the last decade, molecular epidemiological studies have provided new perspectives on studying environmental risks in pediatric populations, based on the growing understanding that children may be more susceptible to toxicants than adults. Protecting children's health is a social priority, and specific research programs have been initiated with this purpose in the United States and Europe. These programs address the development of (i) less invasive methods for biological specimens collection, (ii) specific tools for interpretation and validation of biomarkers, (iii) methods for translating biomarker results into intervention strategies and for integrating them with environmental monitoring and health data, (iv) optimal ways to obtain consent and provide information to children and/or their parents participating in the studies and (v) techniques for the effective communication with policy makers and the public. Critical issues in children's environmental research discussed in this paper include specific needs of study design, exposure assessment, sample collection and ethics. Special consideration is given to the autonomy of the child in giving consent, the details and nature of the information provided, and the need to warrant controlled access to sensitive information. The use of incentives such as gifts and payment to ensure the participation of school-aged children is specifically discussed. Examples of field studies that are focused on the effects of pesticides, air pollution and formaldehyde are used to illustrate advantages and limitations of biomarker studies in children.
 
Association studies of candidate gene polymorphisms and GBC risk.
Continued )
Meta-analysis of candidate gene polymorphisms in different genotype models and GBC association.
Factors implicated in the etiopathogenesis of gallbladder cancer. Independent/established/major Dependent/emerging/novel
Article
Gallbladder cancer (GBC) is the most frequent biliary tract malignancy. Wide variations in GBC incidence and familial and epidemiological data suggest involvement of a genetic component in its etiopathogenesis. A systematic review of genetic association studies in GBC was performed by applying a meta-analysis approach and systematically reviewing PubMed database using appropriate terms. Odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were appropriately derived for each gene-disease association using fixed and random effect models. Meta-regression with population size and genotyping method was also performed. Study quality was assessed using a 10-point scoring system designed from published guidelines. Following a review of 44 published manuscripts and one unpublished report, 80 candidate gene variants and 173 polymorphisms were analyzed among 1046 cases and 2310 controls. Majority of studies were of intermediate quality. Four polymorphisms with >3 separate studies were included in the meta-analysis [OGG1 (rs1052133), TP53 (rs1042522), CYP1A1 (rs1048943) and GSTM1 null polymorphism]. The meta-analysis demonstrated no significant associations of any of the above polymorphisms with GBC susceptibility except TP53 (rs1042522) polymorphism. To conclude, existing candidate gene studies in GBC susceptibility have so far been insufficient to confirm any association. Future research should focus on a more comprehensive approach utilizing potential gene-gene, gene-environment interactions and high-risk haplotypes.
 
Well-established knowledge of the effects of direct ionizing radiation (IR) exposure and the bystander effect.
Model for delayed radiation effects and accelerated aging following irradiation at the tissue level. (A) Cells are irradiated with a high dose of ionizing radiation. Bystander cells in the proximity of directly exposed cells would be subjected to stress signals propagated by the irradiated cells. (B) The majority of directly irradiated cells die, but the few surviving cells may harbor radiation-induced damages. (C) To replenish the tissue following death of directly irradiated cells and to compensate for the slower dividing progeny of directly irradiated cells, the surrounding bystander cells may divide more than they normally would without radiation exposure, leading to faster telomere shortening and localized, accelerated aging in the irradiated tissue.
Proposed impact of telomere length heterogeneity on the processes of cellular aging, senescence, crisis, and carcinogenesis. During the lifespan of the cell, telomere length decreases with each cell division and cells accumulate recessive mutations in the genome. Telomere shortening can be accelerated due to both endogeneous and exogeneous factors such as exposure to DNA damaging agents such as ionizing radiation. With intact cell cycle checkpoints and DNA damage repair responses, senescence will be induced when 5 dysfunctional telomeres are present in the cell. Even with the induction of premature senescence due to the acceleration of telomere shortening, as long as replicative senescence is induced, the cell would no longer have a risk of the initiation of carcinogenic processes. If, however, defects in cell cycle checkpoints and DNA damage repair responses occur before the threshold of five dysfunctional telomeres is reached, the cell would be able to initiate the carcinogenic process. Furthermore, the acceleration of telomere shortening may lead to acceleration of this entire process. The pace of the process of carcinogenesis is dependent on the intra-individual and inter-individual heterogeneity of telomere length.
Proposed hypothesis of short-term and long-term effects of exposure to ionizing radiation in directly irradiated and bystander cells at the cellular level.
Article
It is well established that ionizing radiation induces chromosomal damage, both following direct radiation exposure and via non-targeted (bystander) effects, activating DNA damage repair pathways, of which the proteins are closely linked to telomeric proteins and telomere maintenance. Long-term propagation of this radiation-induced chromosomal damage during cell proliferation results in chromosomal instability. Many studies have shown the link between radiation exposure and radiation-induced changes in oxidative stress and DNA damage repair in both targeted and non-targeted cells. However, the effect of these factors on telomeres, long established as guardians of the genome, still remains to be clarified. In this review, we will focus on what is known about how telomeres are affected by exposure to low- and high-LET ionizing radiation and during proliferation, and will discuss how telomeres may be a key player in the process of radiation-induced carcinogenesis.
 
Article
Reactive oxygen species, as singlet oxygen ((1)O(2)) and hydrogen peroxide, are continuously generated by aerobic organisms, and react actively with biomolecules. At excessive amounts, (1)O(2) induces oxidative stress and shows carcinogenic and toxic effects due to oxidation of lipids, proteins and nucleic acids. Singlet oxygen is able to react with DNA molecule and may induce G to T transversions due to 8-oxodG generation. The nucleotide excision repair, base excision repair and mismatch repair have been implicated in the correction of DNA lesions induced by (1)O(2) both in prokaryotic and in eukaryotic cells. (1)O(2) is also able to induce the expression of genes involved with the cellular responses to oxidative stress, such as NF-κB, c-fos and c-jun, and genes involved with tissue damage and inflammation, as ICAM-1, interleukins 1 and 6. The studies outlined in this review reinforce the idea that (1)O(2) is one of the more dangerous reactive oxygen species to the cells, and deserves our attention.
 
Article
Cytogenetic monitoring has been traditionally used for the surveillance of populations exposed to genotoxic agents. In recent years sensitivity problems emerged in surveys of populations exposed to low levels of mutagens, and therefore alternative approaches have been explored. Biomonitoring studies in children are a promising field, since because of evident differences in the uptake, metabolism, distribution and excretion of mutagens this population seems to be more susceptible than adults. Further, the effect of major confounders such as cigarettes smoking, occupation, life-style, and dietary factors plays a minor role. Among cytogenetic assays, the micronucleus assay (MN) has several advantages and is increasingly used. A review was then carried out to synthesize the published data on the occurrence of MN in children and adolescents (age range 0-18 years), and to assess the impact of genotoxic exposure on MN frequency. Overall, 20 papers from international literature and 8 Russian papers were included. An effect of age was found within this age range, while the influence of gender on MN frequency was irrelevant. These results were confirmed by the re-analysis of data for 448 children selected from the HUMN database. An effect of chronic and infectious diseases on MN levels has been reported by various authors. Most studies describing the effect of exposure to genotoxic agents (ionizing radiation, chemicals, drugs, environmental tobacco smoke) found an increase of MN in exposed children. The limited number of published papers indicates that the conduct of properly designed studies on the effect of environmental pollutants in children may be difficult. This review confirmed the usefulness of MN assay in biomonitoring studies conducted in children, revealing that in many circumstances investigating children increases the sensitivity of the study, even with low dose exposures.
 
Article
Macro domains are ancient, highly evolutionarily conserved domains that are widely distributed throughout all kingdoms of life. The 'macro fold' is roughly 25kDa in size and is composed of a mixed α-β fold with similarity to the P loop-containing nucleotide triphosphate hydrolases. They function as binding modules for metabolites of NAD(+), including poly(ADP-ribose) (PAR), which is synthesized by PAR polymerases (PARPs). Although there is a high degree of sequence similarity within this family, particularly for residues that might be involved in catalysis or substrates binding, it is likely that the sequence variation that does exist among macro domains is responsible for the specificity of function of individual proteins. Recent findings have indicated that macro domain proteins are functionally promiscuous and are implicated in the regulation of diverse biological functions, such as DNA repair, chromatin remodeling and transcriptional regulation. Significant advances in the field of macro domain have occurred in the past few years, including biological insights and the discovery of novel signaling pathways. To provide a framework for understanding these recent findings, this review will provide a comprehensive overview of the known and proposed biochemical, cellular and physiological roles of the macro domain family. Recent data that indicate a critical role of macro domain regulation for the proper progression of cellular differentiation programs will be discussed. In addition, the effect of dysregulated expression of macro domain proteins will be considered in the processes of tumorigenesis and bacterial pathogenesis. Finally, a series of observations will be highlighted that should be addressed in future efforts to develop macro domains as effective therapeutic targets.
 
Article
The formation of micronuclei (MN) is extensively used in molecular epidemiology as a biomarker of chromosomal damage, genome instability, and eventually of cancer risk. The occurrence of MN represents an integrated response to chromosome-instability phenotypes and altered cellular viabilities caused by genetic defects and/or exogenous exposures to genotoxic agents. The present article reviews human population studies addressing the relationship between genetic polymorphisms and MN formation, and provides insight into how genetic variants could modulate the effect of environmental exposures to genotoxic agents, host factors (gender, age), lifestyle characteristics (smoking, alcohol, folate), and diseases (coronary artery disease, cancer). Seventy-two studies measuring MN frequency either in peripheral blood lymphocytes or exfoliated cells were retrieved after an extensive search of the MedLine/PubMed database. The effect of genetic polymorphisms on MN formation is complex, influenced to a different extent by several polymorphisms of proteins or enzymes involved in xenobiotic metabolism, DNA repair proteins, and folate-metabolism enzymes. This heterogeneity reflects the presence of multiple external and internal exposures, and the large number of chromosomal alterations eventually resulting in MN formation. Polymorphisms of EPHX, GSTT1, and GSTM1 are of special importance in modulating the frequency of chromosomal damage in individuals exposed to genotoxic agents and in unexposed populations. Variants of ALDH2 genes are consistently associated with MN formation induced by alcohol drinking. Carriers of BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations (with or without breast cancer) show enhanced sensitivity to clastogens. Some evidence further suggests that DNA repair (XRCC1 and XRCC3) and folate-metabolism genes (MTHFR) also influence MN formation. As some of the findings are based on relatively small numbers of subjects, larger scale studies are required that include scoring of additional endpoints (e.g., MN in combination with fluorescent in situ hybridization, analysis of nucleoplasmic bridges and nuclear buds), and address gene-gene interactions.
 
Structure of Streptozotocin (STZ) as determined by Herr et al. [3]. 
Article
Streptozotocin (Streptozocin, STZ, CAS No. 18883-66-4) is a monofunctional nitrosourea derivative isolated from Streptomyces achromogenes. It has broad spectrum antibiotic activity and antineoplastic properties and is often used to induce diabetes mellitus in experimental animals through its toxic effects on pancreatic beta cells. STZ is a potent alkylating agent known to directly methylate DNA and is highly genotoxic, producing DNA strand breaks, alkali-labile sites, unscheduled DNA synthesis, DNA adducts, chromosomal aberrations, micronuclei, sister chromatid exchanges, and cell death. This antibiotic was found to be mutagenic in bacterial assays and eukaryotic cells. STZ is also carcinogenic; a single administration induces tumors in rat kidney, liver, and pancreas. Several lines of evidence indicate that free radicals are involved in the production of DNA and chromosome damage by this compound. Because of the use of STZ as an antineoplastic agent, the study of its genotoxicity has considerable practical significance. The purpose of this review is to present our current knowledge regarding the genotoxicity of STZ.
 
Article
Streptonigrin (SN, CAS no. 3930-19-6) is an aminoquinone antitumor antibiotic isolated from cultures of Streptomyces flocculus. This compound is a member of a group of antitumor agents which possess the aminoquinone moiety and that includes also mitomycin C, porfiromycin, actinomycin, rifamycin and geldanamycin. Because of the potential use of SN in clinical chemotherapy, the study of its genotoxicity has considerable practical significance.SN inhibits the synthesis of DNA and RNA, causes DNA strand breaks after reduction with NADH, induces unscheduled DNA synthesis and DNA adducts and inhibits topoisomerase II. At the chromosome level, this antibiotic causes chromosome damage and increases the frequency of sister-chromatid exchanges.SN cleaves DNA in cell-free systems by a mechanism that involves complexing with metal ions and autoxidation of the quinone moiety to semiquinone in the presence of NADH with production of oxygen-derived reactive species. Recent evidence strongly suggests that the clastogenic action of this compound is partially mediated by free radicals. The present review aims at summarizing past and current knowledge concerning the genotoxic effects of SN.
 
Article
In order to license a pharmaceutical or chemical, a compound has to be tested for several genotoxicity endpoints, including the induction of chromosomal aberrations in vitro. A working group within the GUM has evaluated published data on the in vitro micronucleus test with the aim of judging its suitability as a replacement for the in vitro chromosomal aberration test. After strict rejection criteria were applied, a database including 96 publications and 34 compounds was obtained. For 30 of these compounds, data on both tests were available. For 24 of the 30, concordant results in both test systems were obtained (80% correlation). The discordant results in 6 compounds can be explained by a known or suspected aneugenic potential of these compounds. Considering that cell types and test protocols were extremely heterogeneous, this correlation is rather encouraging. Comparison of the different protocols, and experience established within the working group yielded several recommendations for the routine use of the in vitro micronucleus test. Although many cell lines are suitable, those most often used in genotoxicity testing (e.g. CHL, CHO, V79, human lymphocytes, L5178Y mouse lymphoma cells) are recommended. Cytochalasin B may be used in the case of human lymphocytes; however, the possibility of its interaction with aneugenic test compounds should be considered. For continuously dividing cell lines, cytochalasin B is not recommended by the working group. Although, there seems to be flexibility in the choice of treatment and sampling times, the average generation time of the chosen cell line of choice should be taken into account when determining sampling time, and treatment of cells for at least one cell cycle duration is recommended. The use of appropriate cytotoxicity tests is strongly recommended. Although studies on some parameters of the test protocol may be useful, the introduction of the in vitro micronucleus test into genotoxicity testing and guidelines should not be delayed. Even in its present state, the in vitro micronucleus is a reliable genotoxicity test. Compared with the chromosomal aberration test, it detects aneugens more reliably, it is faster and easier to perform, and it has more statistical power and the possibility of automation.
 
Article
Recent progress in the identification and functional analysis of protein kinases and adapter molecules that lead to activation of NF-κB family transcription factors has lead to a quite detailed understanding of one of the major signalling pathways that mediate a cell's response to environmental stress in a variety of host-defense situations. NF-κB is recognized as a key regulatory factor mediating the coordinate expression of genes which are part of the cellular machinery that functions to protect an organism against damage posed by physical, chemical or microbial noxae. In a wide variety of patho-physiological situations such as immune and inflammatory reactions, the expression of cytokines, interleukins and adhesion molecules in cells of the immune system including T and B cells, endothelial as well as phagocytic/antigen presenting cells is to a large extent regulated by NF-κB. Moreover, this transcription factor appears to play a central role in the regulation of apoptosis, an important cellular program that decides upon a cell's fate not only during embryonic development but also on its way from normal to the transformed phenotype. Thus, NF-κB has emerged also as an attractive target for therapeutic interference in a variety of pathological situations, including chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, HIV infection and cancer.
 
Article
A total of 15 newly-developed Bowen's disease patients and 34 age-sex-residence-matched controls were recruited from three arseniasis-hyperendemic villages in Taiwan to compare spontaneous and arsenic-induced sister chromatid exchanges (SCEs), proportion of cells with high frequencies of SCEs (HFCs), and replication index (RI) in their peripheral lymphocytes. Arsenic-induced Bowen's disease patients were found to have significantly higher spontaneous SCEs and HFCs and a lower spontaneous RI than in matched controls without or with adjustment for age, gender, cigarette smoking, alcohol drinking, tea drinking, status of major diseases, HBsAg carrier status and arsenic exposure indices through multivariate analysis. Sodium arsenite was found to increase SCEs and HFCs and to decrease RI in a dose-response pattern for both cases and controls. The arsenic-induced decrease in RI was significantly greater in arsenic-induced Bowen's disease patients than in matched controls. The arsenic-induced increases in SCEs and HFCs were also consistently, but not statistically significantly, higher in arsenic-induced Bowen's disease patients than in matched controls at all arsenite treatment levels of 0.5, 1.0 and 2.0 μM. The arsenic-induced increase in cytogenetic damages and decrease in cell proliferation among arsenic-induced Bowen's disease patients compared with matched controls may result from their long-term exposure to inorganic arsenic through consumption of high-arsenic artesian well water, elevated individual genetic and acquired susceptibility to arsenic-induced damage, or both.
 
Article
This paper provides a broad overview of the epidemiological and genetical aspects of common multifactorial diseases in man with focus on three well-studied ones, namely, coronary heart disease (CHD), essential hypertension (EHYT) and diabetes mellitus (DM). In contrast to mendelian diseases, for which a mutant gene either in the heterozygous or homozygous condition is generally sufficient to cause disease, for most multifactorial diseases, the concepts of `genetic susceptibility' and `risk factors' are more appropriate. For these diseases, genetic susceptibility is heterogeneous. The well-studied diseases such as CHD permit one to conceptualize the complex relationships between genotype and phenotype for chronic multifactorial diseases in general, namely that allelic variations in genes, through their products interacting with environmental factors, contribute to the quantitative variability of biological risk factor traits and thus ultimately to disease outcome. Two types of such allelic variations can be distinguished, namely those in genes whose mutant alleles have (i) small to moderate effects on the risk factor trait, are common in the population (polymorphic alleles) and therefore contribute substantially to the variability of biological risk factor traits and (ii) profound effects, are rare in the population and therefore contribute far less to the variability of biological risk factor traits. For all the three diseases considered in this review, a positive family history is a strong risk factor. CHD is one of the major contributors to mortality in most industrialized countries. Evidence from epidemiological studies, clinical correlations, genetic hyperlipidaemias etc., indicate that lipids play a key role in the pathogenesis of CHD. The known lipid-related risk factors include: high levels of low density lipoprotein cholesterol, low levels of high density lipoprotein cholesterol, high apoB levels (the major protein fraction of the low density lipoprotein particles) and elevated levels of Lp(a) lipoprotein. Among the risk factors which are not related to lipids are: high levels of homocysteine, low activity of paraoxonase and possibly also elevated plasma fibrinogen levels. In addition to the above, hypertension, diabetes and obesity (which themselves have genetic determinants) are important risk factors for CHD. Among the environmental risk factors are: high dietary fat intake, smoking, stress, lack of exercise etc. About 60% of the variability of the plasma cholesterol is genetic in origin. While a few genes have been identified whose mutant alleles have large effects on this trait (e.g., LDLR, familial defective apoB-100), variability in cholesterol levels among individuals in most families is influenced by allelic variation in many genes (polymorphisms) as well as environmental exposures. A proportion of this variation can be accounted for by two alleles of the apoE locus that increase (ϵ4) and decrease (ϵ2) cholesterol levels, respectively. A polymorphism at the apoB gene (XbaI) also has similar effects, but is probably not mediated through lipids. High density lipoprotein cholesterol levels are genetically influenced and are related to apoA1 and hepatic lipase (LIPC) gene functions. Mutations in the apoA1 gene are rare and there are data which suggest a role of allelic variation at or linked LIPC gene in high density lipoprotein cholesterol levels. Polymorphism at the apoA1–C3 loci is often associated with hypertriglyceridemia. The apo(a) gene which codes for Lp(a) is highly polymorphic, each allele determining a specific number of multiple tandem repeats of a unique coding sequence known as Kringle 4. The size of the gene correlates with the size of the Lp(a) protein. The smaller the size of the Lp(a) protein, the higher are the Lp(a) levels. Hyperhomocyst(e)inemia is a risk factor for myocardial infarction, stroke and peripheral vascular disease, but the precise nature and intensity of this association, the biochemical mechanisms involved and the role of environmental factors remain to be fully elucidated. Recently, it has been suggested that polymorphisms in genes that code for paraoxonase may need to be added to the list of genetic risk factors for CHD. There are suggestions that high plasma fibrinogen levels (which is exacerbated by smoking which also lowers high density lipoprotein cholesterol levels) may constitute yet another risk factor for CHD. Essential hypertension (EHYT) affects some 10–25% of the people of the industrial world. Its clinical relevance stems from the fact that it is one of the major risk factors for cardiovascular and renal diseases, especially, stroke, coronary heart disease and end-stage renal disease. The role of genetic factors in EHYT is clearly indicated by family studies in which correlations in blood pressure levels have been studied. The variations in the range and magnitude of these correlations however suggest that other, environmental factors must play an important role and which vary from individual to individual and population to population. No major genes controlling blood pressure have been identified. However during the past five years or so, linkage and association studies have shown that there are at least three gene loci, polymorphism at which may contribute to EHYT: these include the AGT, AT1 and ACE genes. Additionally, the molecular basis of three rare mendelian disorders associated with hypertension, namely those involved in glucocorticosteroid-remediable aldosteronism (GRA), Liddle syndrome and apparent mineralocorticosteroid excess (AME) have been delineated. On the basis of clinical phenotypes, four types of diabetes mellitus are distinguished, of which insulin-dependent diabetes melltius (IDDM) and non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) have been the subject of extensive studies. IDDM is a group of heterogeneous diseases probably resulting from exposure to some environmental agent(s) in those individuals with a genetically-determined susceptibility. IDDM is the result of the destruction of insulin-producing β-cells of the pancreas, principally by immunologically-mediated (autoimmune) mechanisms. The major defined risk factor is genetic susceptibility: apart from IDDM1 (linked to the HLA complex) and IDDM2 (in the insulin gene region) at least 10 other genes are involved, mutations at which cause susceptibility to IDDM. There is recent evidence for the possible involvement of an endogenous retrovirus in the aetiology of acute onset IDDM. NIDDM is a very common disease and its prevalence varies in different populations. As in the case of IDDM, its major determinant is genetic susceptibility. Compared to IDDM, the concordance rates in monozygotic twins and risks to first-degree relatives are higher. With the exception of MODY subtype with earlier onset, most cases have onset in middle or late life. The known geographical variations in the prevalence and studies of migrant populations suggest that environmental factors might also be important. The number of genes mutations at which cause susceptibility to NIDDM is not yet known and so far, one putative major gene locus has recently been identified in a Mexican–American population. Several candidate genes are currently being investigated. The available data indicate that some of the genes act through inherited susceptibility to insulin resistance and to decreased capacity for insulin secretion. Rare forms are due to dominant mutations i.e., the MODY diabetes and rarer still are forms due to the production of abnormal insulin due to mutations in the insulin gene itself. Finally, a small proportion of diabetes may be due to mutations in the mitochondrial genome. The attributes, risk factors and interrelationships between the three diseases considered in this review clearly show that the task of using this information for reliably predicting the risk of any of these diseases is formidable, even for a scenario of no radiation exposures, not to mention radiation scenarios. Nonetheless, these data provide a useful framework for developing models aimed at quantifying the response of these diseases to an increase in mutation rate due to radiation. One such model is discussed in a later paper of this series.
 
Article
Micronuclei (MN) frequency is a biomarker of chromosomal damage, genome instability, and cancer risk that integrates acquired mutations and genetic susceptibility. To evaluate and summarize the evidence reporting association between cancer and MN formation, we performed a meta-analysis assessing the frequency of this biomarker in cancer patients. Findings from 37 publications were retrieved through an extensive search of the MedLine/PubMed database. Given the heterogeneity of the study design, all studies were re-classified into three groups: (i) baseline MN frequency of untreated cancer patients (25 studies), (ii) induced MN frequency in thyroid cancer patients undergoing radioiodine treatment (9 studies), and (iii) radiosensitivity of lymphocytes (12 studies) in untreated cancer patients. A meta-estimate of the frequency ratio (meta-FR) was computed in each group. A significant increase of MN frequency was found in untreated cancer patients (meta-FR = 1.45; 95% Confidence Interval (95% CI): 1.28–1.64) and in thyroid cancer patients after radioiodine treatment (meta-FR = 2.26; 95% CI: 1.90–2.68). The third meta-analysis showed a negative trend of meta-FR's when plotted vs. the dose used to study patients’ radiosensitivity, possibly associated to a high rate of apoptosis. The results of this review substantiate the existing evidence about a role of MN in various steps of carcinogenesis. The relatively small numbers of papers suitable for the meta-analysis call for new and larger studies, possibly based on high-throughput techniques, to further understand the role of MN formation in the occurrence of genetic instability and cancer.
 
Article
The combustion of solid fuels (like wood, animal dung, and coal) usually involves elevated temperatures and altered pressures and genotoxicants (e.g., PAHs) are likely to form. These substances are carcinogenic in experimental animals, and epidemiological studies implicate these fuels (especially their emissions) as carcinogens in man. Globally, ∼50% of all households and ∼90% of all rural households use solid fuels for cooking or heating and these fuels often are burnt in simple stoves with very incomplete combustion. Exposed women and children often exhibit low birth weight, increased infant and perinatal mortality, head and neck cancer, and lung cancer although few studies have measured exposure directly. Today, households that cannot meet the expense of fuels like kerosene, liquefied petroleum gas, and electricity resort to collecting wood, agricultural residue, and animal dung to use as household fuels. In the more developed countries, solid fuels are often used for electric power generation providing more than half of the electricity generated in the United States. The world's coal reserves, which equal approximately one exagram, equal ∼1 trillion barrels of crude oil (comparable to all the world's known oil reserves) and could last for 600 years. Studies show that the PAHs that are identified in solid fuel emissions react with NO2 to form direct-acting mutagens. In summary, many of the measured genotoxicants found in both the indoor and electricity-generating combustors are the same; therefore, the severity of the health effects vary with exposure and with the health status of the exposed population.
 
Article
Systemic Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (ALCL) is a distinct disease classification provisionally sub-divided into ALCL, Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase (ALK)+ and ALCL, ALK− entities. More recently, another category of ALCL has been increasingly reported in the literature and is associated with the presence of breast implants. A comprehensive review of the 71 reported cases of breast implant associated ALCL (iALCL) is presented indicating the apparent risk factors and main characteristics of this rare cancer. The average patient is 50 years of age and most cases present in the capsule surrounding the implant as part of the periprosthetic fluid or the capsule itself on average at 10 years post-surgery suggesting that iALCL is a late complication. The absolute risk is low ranging from 1:500,000 to 1:3,000,000 patients with breast implants per year. The majority of cases are ALK-negative, yet are associated with silicone-coated implants suggestive of the mechanism of tumorigenesis which is discussed in relation to chronic inflammation, immunogenicity of the implants and sub-clinical infection. In particular, capsulotomy alone seems to be sufficient for the treatment of many cases suggesting the implants provide the biological stimulus whereas others require further treatment including chemo- and radiotherapy although reported cases remain too low to recommend a therapeutic approach. However, CD30-based therapeutics might be a future option.
 
Article
Much progress has been made in reducing the pollutants emitted from various combustors (including diesel engines and power plants) by the use of alternative fuels; however, much more progress is needed. Not only must researchers improve fuels and combustors, but also there is a need to improve the toxicology testing and analytical chemistry methods associated with these complex mixtures. Emissions from many alternative carbonaceous fuels are mutagenic and carcinogenic. Depending on their source and derivation, alternative carbonaceous fuels before combustion may or may not be genotoxic; however, in order to know their genotoxicity, appropriate chemical analysis and/or bioassay must be performed. Newly developed fuels and combustors must be tested to determine if they provide a public health advantage over existing technologies - including what tradeoffs can be expected (e.g., decreasing levels of PAHs versus increasing levels of NOx and possibly nitroarenes in ambient air). Another need is to improve exposure estimations which presently are a weak link in doing risk analyses. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
 
Article
Charlotte Auerbach, the acknowledged discoverer of chemical mutagenesis, faced many challenges growing up and beginning her career in Germany. In the 1930s she moved to Scotland, completed her doctorate and spent the rest of her career at the University of Edinburgh. She had many scientific successes there, and was eventually provided with her own research group called the Mutagenesis Research Unit, where she continued to be very productive and a leader in her field. This article provides a somewhat abbreviated summary of her early life, struggles, and scientific career and achievements. It concludes with the author's personal memories and anecdotes from a productive and enjoyable year as a visitor on sabbatical in her laboratory.
 
Article
Various aspects of genotoxicity testing of biotechnology-derived products are discussed based on information gathered from a questionnaire which was sent to about 30 predominantly European companies. Feedback was received from 13 companies on 78 compounds, mostly recombinant proteins but also on a number of nonrecombinant proteins, which had been assessed for genotoxicity in a total of 177 tests. Four of the 78 compounds appeared to elicit reproducible genotoxic effects. For one of these compounds, the activity could be related to a nonpeptidic linker molecule. No scientifically convincing rationale for the other three compounds could be established, although, at least for two compounds, their activity may be connected with the enzymatic/hormonal activity. In addition to the survey, published reports on genotoxicity testing of biotechnology products were reviewed. The data are discussed relative to whether genotoxicity testing is a valuable exercise when assessing potentially toxic liabilities of biotechnology-derived compounds. It is concluded that genotoxicity testing is generally inappropriate and unnecessary, a position which is in accordance with the available guidelines addressing this area. For the `average' protein, electrophilic reactions are difficult to envision. Indirect reactions via DNA metabolism and growth regulation seem possible for only very specific proteins such as nucleases, growth factors, cytokines. No information on testing of different types of biotechnology-derived products (e.g., ribozymes, antisense-oligonucleotides, DNA vaccines) has been received in the questionnaires. Discussion of their potential to cause genotoxic changes was based on literature reports. Even for those products for which concerns of genotoxic/tumourigenic potential cannot be completely ruled out, e.g., because of their interaction with DNA metabolism or proliferation control, the performance of standard genotoxicity assays generally appears to be of little value. All information, including also information on the occurrence of genotoxic impurities, has been utilized to formulate a decision tree approach for the genotoxicity testing of biotechnology-derived products.
 
Article
Metabolism is critical for the mutagenicity, carcinogenicity, and other adverse health effects of trichloroethylene (TCE). Despite the relatively small size and simple chemical structure of TCE, its metabolism is quite complex, yielding multiple intermediates and end-products. Experimental animal and human data indicate that TCE metabolism occurs through two major pathways: cytochrome P450 (CYP)-dependent oxidation and glutathione (GSH) conjugation catalyzed by GSH S-transferases (GSTs). Herein we review recent data characterizing TCE processing and flux through these pathways. We describe the catalytic enzymes, their regulation and tissue localization, as well as the evidence for transport and inter-organ processing of metabolites. We address the chemical reactivity of TCE metabolites, highlighting data on mutagenicity of these end-products. Identification in urine of key metabolites, particularly trichloroacetate (TCA), dichloroacetate (DCA), trichloroethanol and its glucuronide (TCOH and TCOG), and N-acetyl-S-(1,2-dichlorovinyl)-L-cysteine (NAcDCVC), in exposed humans and other species (mostly rats and mice) demonstrates function of the two metabolic pathways in vivo. The CYP pathway primarily yields chemically stable end-products. However, the GST pathway conjugate S-(1,2-dichlorovinyl)glutathione (DCVG) is further processed to multiple highly reactive species that are known to be mutagenic, especially in kidney where in situ metabolism occurs. TCE metabolism is highly variable across sexes, species, tissues and individuals. Genetic polymorphisms in several of the key enzymes metabolizing TCE and its intermediates contribute to variability in metabolic profiles and rates. In all, the evidence characterizing the complex metabolism of TCE can inform predictions of adverse responses including mutagenesis, carcinogenesis, and acute and chronic organ-specific toxicity.
 
Article
As research expands the types of energy sources for the future, there is a need to understand the health impacts of fuels and their emissions and to understand what health-research data gaps exist so that in the future proper and informative research and decision-making can be done. In that regard, this series of papers will explore what is known about the history, carcinogenicity, and genotoxicity of fuels and their emission products and attempt to identify major data gaps and areas of interest for future research. The reviews will concentrate on petroleum-derived fuels and biofuels. Although the length of these papers may cause the reader to think otherwise, the coverage of published works is intended to be illustrative rather than exhaustive and is intended for a multidisciplinary audience. This series of papers is not a risk assessment; instead, it is an attempt to introduce the reader with the history and terminology needed when examining fuels and emissions for genotoxic effects. The purpose of this particular paper is to provide a background for the other papers (both within this series and within papers by others) and to establish some principles used in these reviews. In particular, this paper provides definitions, general histories relevant to the topic, an overview of the regulatory history, and appendices the author believes are useful to those interested in the fields associated with the toxicology of carbonaceous fuels and their emissions.
 
Article
Eukaryotic cells utilize various RNA quality control mechanisms to ensure high fidelity of gene expression, thus protecting against the accumulation of nonfunctional RNA and the subsequent production of abnormal peptides. Messenger RNAs (mRNAs) are largely responsible for protein production, and mRNA quality control is particularly important for protecting the cell against the downstream effects of genetic mutations. Nonsense-mediated decay (NMD) is an evolutionarily conserved mRNA quality control system in all eukaryotes that degrades transcripts containing premature termination codons (PTCs). By degrading these aberrant transcripts, NMD acts to prevent the production of truncated proteins that could otherwise harm the cell through various insults, such as dominant negative effects or the ER stress response. Although NMD functions to protect the cell against the deleterious effects of aberrant mRNA, there is a growing body of evidence that mutation-, codon-, gene-, cell-, and tissue-specific differences in NMD efficiency can alter the underlying pathology of genetic disease. In addition, the protective role that NMD plays in genetic disease can undermine current therapeutic strategies aimed at increasing the production of full-length functional protein from genes harboring nonsense mutations. Here, we review the normal function of this RNA surveillance pathway and how it is regulated, provide current evidence for the role that it plays in modulating genetic disease phenotypes, and how NMD can be used as a therapeutic target.
 
Article
In recent years, there has been growing evidence for the involvement of stem cells in cancer initiation. As a result of their long life span, stem cells may have an increased propensity to accumulate genetic damage relative to differentiated cells. Therefore, stem cells of normal tissues may be important targets for radiation-induced carcinogenesis. Knowledge of the effects of ionizing radiation (IR) on normal stem cells and on the processes involved in carcinogenesis is very limited. The influence of high doses of IR (>5 Gy) on proliferation, cell cycle and induction of senescence has been demonstrated in stem cells. There have been limited studies of the effects of moderate (0.5–5 Gy) and low doses (<0.5 Gy) of IR on stem cells however, the effect of low dose IR (LD-IR) on normal stem cells as possible targets for radiation-induced carcinogenesis has not been studied in any depth. There may also be important parallels between stem cell responses and those of cancer stem cells, which may highlight potential key common mechanisms of their response and radiosensitivity. This review will provide an overview of the current knowledge of radiation-induced effects on normal stem cells, with particular focus on low and moderate doses of IR.
 
Article
In this review we bring together evidence that (i) RNA viruses are a cause of chromosomal instability and micronuclei (MN), (ii) those individuals with high levels of lymphocyte MN have a weakened immune response and are more susceptible to RNA virus infection and (iii) both RNA virus infection and MN formation can induce inflammatory cytokine production. Based on these observations we propose a hypothesis that those who harbor elevated frequencies of MN within their cells are more prone to RNA virus infection and are more likely, through combined effects of leakage of self-DNA from MN and RNA from viruses, to escalate pro-inflammatory cytokine production via the cyclic GMP–AMP synthase (cGAS), stimulator of interferon genes (STING) and the Senescence Associated Secretory Phenotype (SASP) mechanisms to an extent that is unresolvable and therefore confers high risk of causing tissue damage by an excessive and overtly toxic immune response. The corollaries from this hypothesis are (i) those with abnormally high MN frequency are more prone to infection by RNA viruses; (ii) the extent of cytokine production and pro-inflammatory response to infection by RNA viruses is enhanced and possibly exceeds threshold levels that may be unresolvable in those with elevated MN levels in affected organs; (iii) reduction of MN frequency by improving nutrition and life-style factors increases resistance to RNA virus infection and moderates inflammatory cytokine production to a level that is immunologically efficacious and survivable.
 
Article
The coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) is challenging global health and economic systems. In some individuals, COVID-19 can cause a wide array of symptoms, affecting several organs, such as the lungs, heart, bowels, kidneys and brain, causing multiorgan failure, sepsis and death. These effects are related in part to direct viral infection of these organs, immunological deregulation, a hypercoagulatory state and the potential for development of cytokine storm syndrome. Since the appearance of COVID-19 is recent, the long-term effects on the health of recovered patients remain unknown. In this review, we focused on current evidence of the mechanisms of DNA damage mediated by coronaviruses. Data supports that these viruses can induce DNA damage, genomic instability, and cell cycle deregulation during their replication in mammalian cells. Since the induction of DNA damage and aberrant DNA repair mechanisms are related to the development of chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, neurodegenerative disorders, and atherosclerosis, it will be important to address similar effects and outcomes in recovered COVID-19 patients.
 
Top-cited authors
Stefano Bonassi
  • Istituto di Ricovero e Cura a Carattere Scientifico San Raffaele Roma
Michael Fenech
  • Genome Health Foundation
Nina Holland
  • University of California, Berkeley
Claudia Bolognesi
  • Azienda Ospedaliera Universitaria San Martino di Genova
Domenico Franco Merlo
  • Azienda Unitaria Sanitaria Locale-IRCCS di Reggio Emilia, Reggio Emilia, Italy