skip to main content

SciTech ConnectSciTech Connect

Title: Final Report - Epigenetics of low dose radiation effects in an animal model

This project sought mechanistic understanding of the epigenetic response of tissues as well as the consequences of those responses, when induced by low dose irradiation in a well-established model system (mouse). Based on solid and extensive preliminary data we investigated the molecular epigenetic mechanisms of in vivo radiation responses, particularly – effects of low, occupationally relevant radiation exposures on the genome stability and adaptive response in mammalian tissues and organisms. We accumulated evidence that low dose irradiation altered epigenetic profiles and impacted radiation target organs of the exposed animals. The main long-term goal was to dissect the epigenetic basis of induction of the low dose radiation-induced genome instability and adaptive response and the specific fundamental roles of epigenetic changes (i.e. DNA methylation, histone modifications and miRNAs) in their generation. We hypothesized that changes in global and regional DNA methylation, global histone modifications and regulatory microRNAs played pivotal roles in the generation and maintenance low-dose radiation-induced genome instability and adaptive response. We predicted that epigenetic changes influenced the levels of genetic rearrangements (transposone reactivation). We hypothesized that epigenetic responses from low dose irradiation were dependent on exposure regimes, and would be greatest when organisms are exposed in a protracted/fractionated manner: fractionatedmore » exposures > acute exposures. We anticipated that the epigenetic responses were correlated with the gene expression levels. Our immediate objectives were: • To investigate the exact nature of the global and locus-specific DNA methylation changes in the LDR exposed cells and tissues and dissect their roles in adaptive response • To investigate the roles of histone modifications in the low dose radiation effects and adaptive response • To dissect the roles of regulatory microRNAs and their targets in low dose radiation effects and adaptive response • To correlate the levels of epigenetic changes with genetic rearrangement levels and gene expression patterns. In sum, we determined the precise global and locus-specific DNA methylation patterns in the LDR-exposed cells and tissues of mice, and to correlated DNA methylation changes with the gene expression patterns and manifestations of genome instability. We also determined the alterations of global histone modification pattern in the LDR exposed tissues. Additionally, we established the nature of microRNAome changes in the LDR exposed tissue. In this study we for the first time found that LDR exposure caused profound tissue-specific epigenetic changes in the exposed tissues. We established that LDR exposure affect methylation of repetitive elements in the murine genome, causes changes in histone methylation, acetylation and phosphorylation. Importantly, we found that LDR causes profound and persistent effects on small RNA profiles and gene expression, and that miRNAs are excellent biomarkers of LDR exposure. Furthermore, we extended our analysis and studied LDR effects in rat tissues and human tissues and cell lines. There we also analyzed LDR-induced gene expression, DNA methylation and miRNA changes. Our datasets laid foundation for several new research projects aimed to understand molecular underpinnings of low dose radiation responses, and biological repercussions of low dose radiation effects and radiation carcinogenesis.« less
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
University of Lethbridge
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23)
Contributing Orgs:
University of Lethbridge
Country of Publication:
United States
59 BASIC BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES Low dose radiation, epigenetics, DNA methylation, gene expression, microRNA