Genome Effects and Mutational Risk of Radiation

T. Paunesku*, G. E. Woloschak

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Ionizing radiation is a part of the natural environment humans are exposed to on Earth. For cells ionizing radiation is only one of many sources of stress that will be experienced during the course of a lifetime. The primary cellular target of ionizing radiation is DNA. Damage to DNA caused by ionizing radiation leads to mutations in somatic cells, often resulting in cancer; mutations of germ cells lead to hereditary mutations and, theoretically, genetic diseases. In addition, the presence of damaged nuclear DNA in cells can lead to genomic instability - a cellular state that can result in the accumulation of new mutations several cell divisions following the DNA damage event. The situation is further complicated by different effects of radiation of differing qualities, doses, and dose rates on cells; and different outcomes that identical radiation treatment can have on different cell types under different environmental and physiological conditions, in organisms of different species, or different gender. Despite extensive efforts, there is much that is still not understood about radiation exposure, and the coming years will offer more opportunities to explore these areas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Environmental Health
PublisherElsevier Inc
Number of pages12
ISBN (Print)9780444522726
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011


  • Apoptosis
  • Cancer
  • Cell cycle
  • DNA repair
  • Gender-specific response
  • Genomic instability
  • Homologous recombination (HR)
  • Ionizing radiation
  • Model organisms
  • Molecular effects of radiation
  • Mutations
  • Nonhomologous end joining (NHEJ)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)


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