AN INVESTIGATION OF THE EFFECT OF RADIATION OF DNA METHYLATION PATTERNS
The deleterious effects of radiation exposure have been well documented. However, the exact target of radiation damage has not as yet been discovered. Methylation of DNA has been shown to play a major role in gene expression, carcinogenesis, cellular development and differentiation, and stabilization of DNA conformational states. Therefore this project was undertaken to determine the effects of radiation on DNA methylation patterns. Four lines of cultured mammalian cells were used in this project: V79A03, a Chinese hamster lung fibroblast; HeLa S-3, an epithelial cell line from a human cervix carcinoma; CHO K-1, an epithelial cell line from a Chinese hamster ovary; and C-1300 N1E-115, a mouse neuroblastoma line. The 5-methylcytosine levels in DNA following exposure to cobalt-60 gamma radiation were measured. Induction of metallothionein in V79A03 cells and acetylcholinesterase in C-1300 N1E-115 cells after irradiation was determined and the effect of radiation on cytoplasmic and nuclear levels of DNA methyltransferase was studied and nuclear demethylase activity assayed. This study showed gamma radiation resulted in a decrease of 5-methylcytosine levels in the DNA of cultured mammalian cells. This radiation-induced hypomethylation resulted in the induction of acetylcholinesterase in mouse neuroblastoma cells and metallothionein in Chinese hamster lung fibroblasts and was caused by a decrease in DNA methyltransferase activity in the nucleus after irradiation and not by the presence of a DNA demethylase.