Environmental Radiation Protection
(ERP) Curriculum

Genotoxicology: Genetic Effects of Radiation and Other Environmental Mutagens (3 hrs)

Instructor: Stacey Lance

Course Description:

The goal of this course is provide students with an in-depth knowledge concerning the genetic effects of radiation and other environmental mutagens. Topics to be covered include: the molecular mechanisms of mutation and mutation repair, biomarkers and biomonitoring, genomic instability, transgenerational effects, and individual susceptibility. In addition to gaining a strong background in genotoxicology, students will learn to 1) interpret and evaluate genetic information from the current literature, 2) use genotoxicity assays and determine their appropriate application in research, 3) understand genetic risk assessment and how data from genetic assays are extrapolated to human health risk. Throughout the class, students will gain hands on experience with genotoxicology assays by conducting a laboratory project using DNA microsatellite loci to directly measure mutation rates in a model organism, the medaka fish, experimentally exposed to chronic low dose radiation.

Class Schedule and Grading:

This three-week class will consist of five two-hour classes per week with lectures on Mondays and Wednesdays, lab/lecture on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and discussions/exams on Fridays. Lecture and laboratory participation will comprise a large portion of the final grade. In addition, there will be one mid-term exam, a final exam, and a group project. For the project students will be expected to propose a relevant study addressing the genetic effects of radiation in a model organism. The study must make use of genetic assays discussed in class and incorporate a detailed experimental design and discussion of how their potential results could be extrapolated to human genetic risk assessment.


Introductory Genetics

Course Innovation:

This course will make use of two facilities present at SREL on the SRS: the Low-Dose Irradiation Facility (LoDIF) and the DNA laboratory. During the first lab session students will tour the LoDIF and learn about the medaka fish as a model organism. The LoDIF is a one-of-a-kind facility consisting of 40 outdoor mesocosms equipped with 137Cs irradiation sources designed to provide three different biologically relevant exposure levels for use in evaluating the long-term impact of chronic low-level radiation exposure. Medaka fish have been studied at the Lo-Dif for 7 years and previous studies at SREL demonstrated that offspring from irradiated male medaka parents have elevated mutation frequencies relative to unirradiated controls. At present the medaka colony is being used to examine the transgenerational effects of radiation exposure and the colony is on its 6th generation of exposure. Students in this class will be directly involved in measuring mutation rates in medaka from the ongoing study. Students will spend two days per week working in the SREL DNA laboratory where they will learn how to extract DNA, genotype microsatellite loci, and measure mutation rates. Students will use high-throughput DNA technologies including ABI 96-well thermocyclers and an ABI 3130 automated sequencer, and GeneMapper software to analyze microsatellites.

Preliminary Course Schedule:

Week 1:
MondayIntroduction/review of DNA structure & biochemistry
TuesdayTrip to LoDIF facility/ Introduction to Medaka as a model organism
WednesdayDNA damage and repair; DNA adducts and mutations
ThursdayDNA extraction of Medaka samples/Intro to biomarkers
Week 2:
MondayRadiation and mutagenesis
TuesdayPCR of microsatellite loci in Medaka/Biomonitoring
WednesdayEpigenetics, carcinogenesis and cell cycle
ThursdayEpigenetics, carcinogenesis & cell cycle
Week 3:
MondayTransgenerational effects, susceptibility & polymorphisms
TuesdayData analysis: measuring mutation rates, experimental design, and extrapolation of data from genetic assays to human genotoxicological risk
WednesdayGenomics & the future of assessing molecular effects of environmental mutagens
ThursdayImplications of mutations to population genetics, adaptation, and evolution
FridayFinal Exam

For more information contact Dr. John Seaman, seaman(at)srel.uga.edu.