Because mitochondria are prone to oxidative stress, damage to their DNA might provide a record of radiation exposure. We measured the effect of gamma radiation on mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) copy number and common deletion (mito-CD) mutations using Beas-2B and HFL-1 cells lines and C3H/HeJ mice exposed to total-body irradiation (TBI) and sub-TBI. DNA was extracted 5 days after cell irradiation or 12 months after animal exposure. We found that: (1) natural ratios of mtDNA/nDNA and mito-CD/mtDNA varied between cell lines; (2) mtDNA copy number decreased in Beas-2B and increased in HFL-1 following 2 Gy; (3) mito-CD in both cell lines increased after 2 Gy; (4) in aged mice, the natural ratios of mtDNA/nDNA varied from 0.723 to 8.146 in different tissues; (5) in kidney tissue, TBI and sub-TBI mildly increased mtDNA copy number but substantially increased mtDNA-CD; and (6) in liver tissue, TBI and sub-TBI induced a slight increase in mtDNA copy number and a larger increase in mtDNA-CD. These findings indicate that mtDNA copy number varies in time by cell type, but there is a substantial and sustained increase in mtDNA mutations that occurs to different degrees in different tissues and cells following irradiation.
Mitochondrial DNA Irradiation Reactive oxygen species Common deletion Mitochondrial copy number
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This paper was prepared in honor of the final work performed by David Maguire during his time in our laboratory shortly before his passing. We would also like to thank Kate Casey-Sawicki for expert editorial guidance and insights.
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