News of the WeekGenetics

DNA Mutations Linked to Soviet Bomb Tests

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Science  08 Feb 2002:
Vol. 295, Issue 5557, pp. 946
DOI: 10.1126/science.295.5557.946a

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CAMBRIDGE, U.K.-- On page 1037, researchers describe a compelling connection between radioactive fallout and elevated DNA mutation rates in families living downwind of the Semipalatinsk nuclear facility, the Soviet equivalent of the Nevada Test Site. The mutation rate of minisatellite DNA--short, repeating sequences that pepper the genome-challenges the conventional view that radiation inflicts its punishment on DNA solely by directly corrupting the nucleic acids.