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Mutat Res. 1997 Nov 28;381(2):267-78.

Further evidence for elevated human minisatellite mutation rate in Belarus eight years after the Chernobyl accident.

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  • 1Department of Genetics, University of Leicester, UK.


Analysis of germline mutation rate at human minisatellites among children born in areas of the Mogilev district of Belarus heavily polluted after the Chernobyl accident has been extended, both by recruiting more families from the affected region and by using five additional minisatellite probes, including multi-locus probe 33.6 and four hypervariable single-locus probes. These additional data confirmed a twofold higher mutation rate in exposed families compared with non-irradiated families from the United Kingdom. An elevated rate was seen at all three independent sets of minisatellites (detected separately by multi-locus probes 33.15, 33.6 and six single-locus probes), indicating a generalised increase in minisatellite germline mutation rate in the Belarus families. Within the Belarus cohort, mutation rate was significantly greater in families with higher parental radiation dose estimated for chronic external and internal exposure to caesium-137, consistent with radiation induction of germline mutation. The spectra of mutation seen in the unexposed and exposed families were indistinguishable, suggesting that increased mutation observed over multiple loci arises indirectly by some mechanism that enhances spontaneous minisatellite mutation.

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