Genetic ecotoxicology of asbestos pollution in the house mouse Mus musculus domesticus

Rachel Ben-Shlomo, Uri Shanas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: We tested the genetic diversity in wild mice (Mus musculus domesticus) inhabiting the asbestos-polluted area as a model for the long-term mutagenic effect of asbestos. Hazardous effects of deposited asbestos persist in the environment because of low rate of fiber disintegration. The upper layers of the soil in the vicinity of a former asbestos factory are nearly "saturated" with asbestos fibers and dust. Natural populations of mice dwell in this area and are constantly exposed to asbestos fibers. Methods: We measured the microsatellites genetic diversity of wild mice (Mus musculus domesticus) inhabiting the asbestos-polluted area as a model for the long-term mutagenic effect of this environmental toxin. Results: The six tested microsatellites were highly polymorphic, revealing 111 different alleles for the two sampled populations. Effective number of alleles was slightly higher in the polluted population relative to the control population, while observed heterozygosity was lower. The chromatographic profile of the polluted population exhibited a significantly higher number of bands, probably resulting from somatic mutations, in addition to the ordinary microsatellite band profiles. Conclusions: Long-term exposure to asbestos fibers significantly elevates the level of somatic mutations. It also leads to a relatively high level of observed homozygosity, a phenomenon that may be associated with loss of heterozygosity. Based on the mice population, our data suggest elevated health risks for humans living in an asbestos-polluted area.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1264-1269
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Volume18
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2011

Keywords

  • Asbestos
  • Gene diversity
  • Genotoxin
  • Loss of heterozygosity
  • Somatic mutations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Environmental Chemistry

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