Editor's Choice Article for March 2014

Environmental and Molecular Mutagenesis (EMM) Editor's Choice - March 2014

The Editor's Choice for March is "Copy Number Variants are Produced in Response to Low-Dose Ionizing Radiation in Cultured Cells" by Martin F. Arlt, Sountharia Rajendran, Shanda R. Birkeland, Thomas E. Wilson, and Thomas W. Glover.

This Editor’s Choice article reports on ionizing radiation-induced copy number variation (CNV).  CNVs, defined as deletions or duplications of 50bp to over a megabase, represent one of the most common modes of genetic variation and many CNVs have been shown to be of clinical importance.  How these CNV form and the environmental risk factors that impact CNV formation is the focus of the paper.  The authors exposed cultured mammalian cells to relatively low doses of ionizing radiation and found increased CNV mutations in the surviving cells.  Based on this work and previous reports by this group on other agents, the authors suggest that any environmental agent that impairs replication is capable of inducing new CNVs.  Significantly, the work raises the possibility for non-DNA damaging agents to act as inducers of CNV mutations.  This work is significant and important because it opens up a new area of study in environmental biology.  Ultimately, this work and studies like it will help develop more rationale and effective risk estimates for exposures to different environmental agents.

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