University of Oulu

Kesäniemi, J., Lavrinienko, A., Tukalenko, E., Boratyński, Z., Kivisaari, K., Mappes, T., … Watts, P. C. (2019). Exposure to environmental radionuclides associates with tissue-specific impacts on telomerase expression and telomere length. Scientific Reports, 9(1).

Exposure to environmental radionuclides associates with tissue-specific impacts on telomerase expression and telomere length

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Author: Kesäniemi, Jenni1; Lavrinienko, Anton1; Tukalenko, Eugene1;
Organizations: 1Ecology and Genetics, University of Oulu, Oulu, 90014, Finland
2CIBIO/InBIO, Research Center in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources, University of Porto, PT-4485-661, Vairão, Portugal
3Department of Biological and Environmental Science, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, 40014, Finland
4Space Physics Laboratory, Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, Kyiv, 01601, Ukraine
5Ecologie Systématique Evolution, Université Paris-Sud, CNRS, AgroParisTech, Université Paris-Saclay, F-91405, Orsay Cedex, France
6Department of Biological Sciences, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, 29208, USA
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.4 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2019
Publish Date: 2019-08-27


Telomeres, the protective structures at the ends of chromosomes, can be shortened when individuals are exposed to stress. In some species, the enzyme telomerase is expressed in adult somatic tissues, and potentially protects or lengthens telomeres. Telomeres can be damaged by ionizing radiation and oxidative stress, although the effect of chronic exposure to elevated levels of radiation on telomere maintenance is unknown for natural populations. We quantified telomerase expression and telomere length (TL) in different tissues of the bank vole Myodes glareolus, collected from the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, an environment heterogeneously contaminated with radionuclides, and from uncontaminated control sites elsewhere in Ukraine. Inhabiting the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone was associated with reduced TL in the liver and testis, and upregulation of telomerase in brain and liver. Thus upregulation of telomerase does not appear to associate with longer telomeres but may reflect protective functions other than telomere maintenance or an attempt to maintain shorter telomeres in a stressful environment. Tissue specific differences in the rate of telomere attrition and apparent radiosensitivity weaken the intra-individual correlation in telomere length among tissues in voles exposed to radionuclides. Our data show that ionizing radiation alters telomere homeostasis in wild animal populations in tissue specific ways.

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Series: Scientific reports
ISSN: 2045-2322
ISSN-E: 2045-2322
ISSN-L: 2045-2322
Volume: 9
Article number: 850
DOI: 10.1038/s41598-018-37164-8
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1182 Biochemistry, cell and molecular biology
Funding: PCW and TM are funded by Academy of Finland (project numbers 287153 and 268670 respectively). TAM and APM were supported by the Samuel Freeman Charitable Trust, the CNRS, and the University of South Carolina. ZB is supported by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (SFRH/BPD/84822/2012). KK is supported by the Emil Aaltonen Foundation (Grant No. 160107).
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 287153
Detailed Information: 287153 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
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