Mouse genomic associations with in vitro sensitivity to simulated space radiation


Exposure to ionizing radiation is considered by NASA to be a major health hazard for deep space exploration missions. Ionizing radiation sensitivity is modulated by both genomic and environmental factors. Understanding their contributions is crucial for designing experiments in model organisms, evaluating the risk of deep space (i.e. high-linear energy transfer, or LET, particle) radiation exposure in astronauts, and also selecting therapeutic irradiation regimes for cancer patients. We identified single nucleotide polymorphisms in 15 strains of mice, including 10 collaborative cross model strains and 5 founder strains, associated with spontaneous and ionizing radiation-induced in vitro DNA damage quantified based on immunofluorescent tumor protein p53 binding protein (53BP1) positive nuclear foci. Statistical analysis suggested an association with pathways primarily related to cellular signaling, metabolism, tumorigenesis and nervous system damage. We observed different genomic associations in early (4 and 8 h) responses to different LET radiation, while later (24 hour) DNA damage responses showed a stronger overlap across all LETs. Furthermore, a subset of pathways was associated with spontaneous DNA damage, suggesting 53BP1 positive foci as a potential biomarker for DNA integrity in mouse models. Our results suggest several mouse strains as new models to further study the impact of ionizing radiation and validate the identified genetic loci. We also highlight the importance of future human in vitro studies to refine the association of genes and pathways with the DNA damage response to ionizing radiation and identify targets for space travel countermeasures.

Life Sciences in Space Research

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