Genes & Cancer

Mobilization of LINE-1 in irradiated mammary gland tissue may potentially contribute to low dose radiation-induced genomic instability

Lidia Luzhna1, Yaroslav Ilnytskyy1 and Olga Kovalchuk1

1 Department of Biological Sciences, University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, Canada


Olga Kovalchuk, email:

Keywords: ionizing radiation, LINE-1, mammary gland, c-myc

Received: October 28, 2014Accepted: February 13, 2015 Published: February 14, 2015


It is known that cellular stresses such as ionizing radiation activate LINE-1 (long interspersed nuclear element type 1, L1), but the molecular mechanisms of LINE-1 activation have not been fully elucidated. There is a possibility that DNA methylation changes induced by genotoxic stresses might contribute to LINE-1 activation in mammalian cells. L1 insertions usually cause major genomic rearrangements, such as deletions, transductions, the intrachromosomal homologous recombination between L1s, and the generation of pseudogenes, which could lead to genomic instability. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of low and high doses of ionizing radiation on the DNA methylation status of LINE-1 transposable elements in rat mammary glands. Here we describe radiation-induced hypomethylation and activation of LINE-1 ORF1 in rat mammary gland tissues. We show that radiation exposure has also led to the translation of the LINE-1 element, whereby the 148 kDa LINE-1 protein level was increased 96 hours after treatment with a low dose and low energy level radiation and remained elevated for 24 weeks after treatment. The mobilization of LINE-1 in irradiated tissue may potentially contribute to genomic instability. The observed activation of mobile elements in response to radiation exposure is consistently discussed as a plausible mechanism of cancer etiology and development.

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