Kodaira, M., Izumi, S., Takahashi, N. and Nakamura, N. No Evidence of Radiation Effect on Mutation Rates at Hypervariable Minisatellite Loci in the Germ Cells of Atomic Bomb Survivors. Radiat. Res. 162, 350–356 (2004).
Human minisatellites consist of tandem arrays of short repeat sequences, and some are highly polymorphic in numbers of repeats among individuals. Since these loci mutate much more frequently than coding sequences, they make attractive markers for screening populations for genetic effects of mutagenic agents. Here we report the results of our analysis of mutations at eight hypervariable minisatellite loci in the offspring (61 from exposed families in 60 of which only one parent was exposed, and 58 from unexposed parents) of atomic bomb survivors with mean doses of >1 Sv. We found 44 mutations in paternal alleles and eight mutations in maternal alleles with no indication that the high doses of acutely applied radiation had caused significant genetic effects. Our finding contrasts with those of some other studies in which much lower radiation doses, applied chronically, caused significantly increased mutation rates. Possible reasons for this discrepancy are discussed.