Editor's Choice Article for August 2015

Environmental and Molecular Mutagenesis Editor's Choice - August 2015

The Editor's Choice for August is “Mutagenicity Monitoring Following Battlefield Exposures: Molecular Analysis of HPRT Mutations in Gulf War I Veterans Exposed to Depleted Uranium” by Janice A. Nicklas, Richard J. Albertini, Pamela M. Vacek, Stephanie K. Ardell, Elizabeth W. Carter, Melissa A. McDiarmid, Susan M. Engelhardt, Patricia W. Gucer, and Katherine S. Squibb.

In the 1991 Gulf War, a group of soldiers was accidentally exposed to depleted uranium (DU), which possesses approximately 60% of the radioactivity of natural uranium. In order to understand its potentially harmful effects, Nicklas et al. performed HPRT assays on exposed Veterans. A total of 1,377 HPRT T-cell mutations were identified in peripheral blood lymphocytes of 61 Veterans, using samples collected at two-year intervals over a period of eight years (2001-2009).  In their Editor's Choice article, Nicklas et al. report the HPRT mutational spectrum. Their most important findings were that the HPRT gene mutations were not specifically related to DU exposure and the induced mutant clones persisted in vivo over many years. These conclusions were drawn based on the fact that no significant differences were observed in the relative frequencies of large mutational events between high versus low DU-exposed groups or between the mutational spectra of DU-exposed Veterans and historic controls. This is a valuable study because it creates the largest data set of human, in vivo HPRT mutations, and it is the only data set that describes the persistence of mutations in this gene over a period of several years. Therefore, this Editor’s Choice article will be an important resource for those performing molecular analyses of gene mutations caused by occupational exposures or establishing the background spectrum of mutations in other reporter genes.  Environ. Mol. Mutagen. 56:594-608, 2015.  © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. 

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