University of Oulu

Kesäniemi, J., Lavrinienko, A., Tukalenko, E. et al. Exposure to environmental radionuclides alters mitochondrial DNA maintenance in a wild rodent. Evol Ecol 34, 163–174 (2020).

Exposure to environmental radionuclides alters mitochondrial DNA maintenance in a wild rodent

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Author: Kesäniemi, Jenni1,2; Lavrinienko, Anton1,2; Tukalenko, Eugene1,3;
Organizations: 1Ecology and Genetics Research Unit, University of Oulu, 90014, Oulu, Finland
2Department of Biological and Environmental Science, University of Jyväskylä, 40014, Jyväskylä, Finland
3National Research Center for Radiation Medicine of the National Academy of Medical Science, Kyiv, 04050, Ukraine
4Department of Evolutionary Genetics, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Plön, Germany
5Ecologie Systématique Evolution, Université Paris-Sud, CNRS, Université Paris-Saclay, 91405, Orsay Cedex, AgroParisTech, 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 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2020
Publish Date: 2020-05-26


Mitochondria are sensitive to oxidative stress, including that derived from ionizing radiation. To quantify the effects of exposure to environmental radionuclides on mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) dynamics in wildlife, bank voles (Myodes glareolus) were collected from the chernobyl exclusion zone (CEZ), where animals are exposed to elevated levels of radionuclides, and from uncontaminated areas within the CEZ and elsewhere in Ukraine. Brains of bank voles from outside the CEZ were characterized by low mtDNA copy number and low mtDNA damage; by contrast, bank voles within the CEZ had high mtDNA copy number and high mtDNA damage, consistent with putative damaging effects of elevated radiation and a compensatory response to maintain sufficient functioning mitochondria. In animals outside the CEZ, the expression levels of PGC-1α gene and mtDNA copy number were positively correlated as expected from this gene’s prominent role in mitochondrial biogenesis; this PGC-1α-mtDNA copy number association is absent in samples from the CEZ. Our data imply that exposure to radionuclides is associated with altered mitochondrial dynamics, evident in level of mtDNA and mtDNA damage and the level of activity in mitochondrial synthesis.

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Series: Evolutionary ecology
ISSN: 0269-7653
ISSN-E: 1573-8477
ISSN-L: 0269-7653
Volume: 34
Issue: 2
Pages: 163 - 174
DOI: 10.1007/s10682-019-10028-x
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
1184 Genetics, developmental biology, physiology
Funding: Open access funding provided by University of Oulu including Oulu University Hospital. We acknowledge Gennadi Milinevsky, Igor Chizhevsky, Andrii Simon, Serhii Kirieiev, Anatoly Nosovsky and Maksym Ivanenko for logistic support and help in organizing fieldwork in Ukraine. PCW and TM were funded by Academy of Finland (Project Numbers 287153 and 268670). TAM and APM were supported by awards from the Samuel Freeman Charitable Trust and the American Council of Learned Societies. The authors declare no conflicts of interest.
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 287153
Detailed Information: 287153 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
268670 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
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