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Increase, Mutations leads to Increase, Heritable mutations in offspring
Key Event Relationship Overview
AOPs Referencing Relationship
|AOP Name||Adjacency||Weight of Evidence||Quantitative Understanding||Point of Contact||Author Status||OECD Status|
|Alkylation of DNA in male pre-meiotic germ cells leading to heritable mutations||adjacent||High||Moderate||Carole Yauk (send email)||Open for citation & comment||WPHA/WNT Endorsed|
Life Stage Applicability
Key Event Relationship Description
If a mutation arises in spermatogonial stem cells and does not influence cellular function, the mutation can become fixed and/or propagated within the stem cell population. Mutations that do not affect sperm maturation will persist through the succeeding stages of spermatogenesis and will be found in the mature sperm of the organism throughout its reproductive lifespan. Mutations can also occur in differentiating spermatogonia; however, once the sperm generated by these dividing spermatogonia are ejaculated there will be no ‘record’ of the induced mutation. Mutations that impair spermatogenesis or the viability of the cell will be lost via apoptosis and cell death, potentially contributing to decreased fertility. Mutations that do not impact sperm motility, morphology or ability to penetrate the zona pellucida (or other important sperm parameters), and that are present in mature sperm, may be transmitted to the egg resulting in the development of an offspring with a mutation. Thus, increased incidence of mutations in germ cells leads to increased incidence of mutations in the offspring. There is a great deal of evidence demonstrating that exposure to a variety of DNA alkylating agents induces mutations in male spermatogenic cells.
Evidence Supporting this KER
Evolution requires heritable mutations that are transmitted to offspring via parental gametes. This is the primary mechanism by which an offspring would have a sequence variant in every single one of its cells that is not found in its parents. Indeed, as stated in a recent review in Science by Shendura and Aikey "Germline mutations are the principal cause of heritable disease and the ultimate source of evolutionary change." Thus, this KER is supported by substantive understanding of genetics and evolution, with heritable germ cell mutations forming the basis for the selective evolution of species.
In addition, in toxicology, a large body of literature demonstrates that exposure to specific genotoxic chemicals during pre-meiotic stages of spermatogenesis leads to mutations in both the sperm and the offspring, supporting that mutations occurring in sperm fertilize the egg and result in offspring with mutations (reviewed in Demarini 2012; Marchetti and Wyrobek 2005; Yauk et al. 2012). Indeed, ENU is used as a tool in genetics to create offspring carrying mutations for the purposes of understanding gene function ( e.g., http://www.riken.jp/en/research/labs/brc/mutagen_genom). In these studies, male mice are mutagenized by exposure to ENU and mated to females. The offspring of these males have a much higher incidence of mutation; the function of new mutations occurring in genes in these offspring is used to study gene function.
Thus, overall this KER is biologically plausible and widely understood.
Uncertainties and Inconsistencies
There are no inconsistencies in the data for this KER, although the data are limited. There is a possibility that mutations can arise in the early embryo instead of in the spermatogenic cells. However, given the study designs for this type of work (where > 42 days pass prior to sperm collection or mating – see OECD TG488 for the time-series required for transgene mutation analysis in sperm), it is unlikely that this contributes significantly. Limitations in technology currently prevent the analyses required to describe the incidence of mutations in sperm versus offspring, but this is a future research direction. It should be noted that the locations and types of mutations would influence the probably of transmission; this relationship has not been confirmed empirically and limits extrapolation across studies applying different endpoints.
Known modulating factors
Known Feedforward/Feedback loops influencing this KER
Domain of Applicability
Mutation is the underlying source of evolution and occurs in every species. Theoretically, any sexually reproducing organism (i.e., producing gametes) can acquire mutations in their gametes and transmit these to descendants. Thus, the present KER is relevant to any species producing sperm.
Barnett, L.B., R.W. Tyl, B.S. Shane, M.D. Shelby and S.E. Lewis (2002), "Transmission of mutations in the lacI transgene to the offspring of ENU-treated Big Blue male mice", Environ. Mol. Mutagen., 40(4): 251-257.
Brooks, T.M. and S.W. Dean (1997), "The detection of gene mutation in the tubular sperm of Muta Mice following a single intraperitoneal treatment with methyl methanesulphonate or ethylnitrosourea", Mutat. Res., 388(2-3): 219-222.
Demarini, D.M. (2012), "Declaring the existence of human germ-cell mutagens", Environ. Mol. Mutagen., 53(3): 166-172.
Dubrova, Y.E., P. Hickenbotham, C.D. Glen, K. Monger, H.P. Wong and R.C. Barber (2008), "Paternal exposure to ethylnitrosourea results in transgenerational genomic instability in mice", Environ. Mol. Mutagen., 49(4): 308-311.
Kong, A., M.L. Frigge, G. Masson, S. Besenbacher, P. Sulem, G. Magnusson, S.A. Gudjonsson, A. Sigurdsson, A. Jonasdottir, W.S. Wong, G. Sigurdsson, G.B. Walters, S. Steinberg, H. Helgason, G. Thorleifsson, D.F. Gudbjartsson, A. Helgason, O.T. Magnusson, U. Thorsteinsdottir and K. Stefansson K. (2012), "Rate of de novo mutations and the importance of father's age to disease risk", Nature, 488(7412): 471-475.
Lewis, S.E., L.B. Barnett, B.M. Sadler and M.D. Shelby (1991), "ENU mutagenesis in the mouse electrophoretic specific-locus test, 1. Dose-response relationship of electrophoretically-detected mutations arising from mouse spermatogonia treated with ethylnitrosourea", 'Mutat. Res., 249(2): 311-315.
Liegibel, U.M. and P. Schmezer (1994), "Detection of the two germ cell mutagens ENU and iPMS using the LacZ/transgenic mouse mutation assay" Mutat. Res., 341(1):17-28.
Marchetti, F. and A.J. Wyrobek (2005), "Mechanisms and consequences of paternally-transmitted chromosomal abnormalities", Birth Defects Res C Embryo Today, 75(2): 112-129.
Mattison, J.D., L.B. Penrose and B. Burlinson (1997), "Preliminary results of ethylnitrosourea, isopropyl methanesulphonate and methyl methanesulphonate activity in the testis and epididymal spermatozoa of Muta Mice", Mutat. Res. 388(2-3): 123-7.
O'Brien, J.M., A. Williams, J. Gingerich, G.R. Douglas, F. Marchetti and C.L. Yauk (2013), "No evidence for transgenerational genomic instability in the F1 or F2 descendants of Muta™Mouse males exposed to N-ethyl-N-nitrosourea", Mutat Res., 741-742:11-7
Paul,C. and B. Robaire (2013), "Ageing of the male germ line", Nat. Rev. Urol., 10(4): 227-234.
Shendura, J. and M. Akey (2015), "The origins, determinants, and consequences of human mutations", Science, 349(6255): 1478-1483.
Sun, J.X., A. Helgason, G. Masson, S.S. Ebenesersdottir, H. Li, S. Mallick, S. Gnerre, N. Patterson, A. Kong, D. Reich and K. Stefansson (2012), "A direct characterization of human mutation based on microsatellites", Nat. Genet., 44(10): 1161-1165.
Swayne, B.G., A. Kawata, N.A. Behan, A. Williams, M.G. Wade, A.J. Macfarlane and C.L. Yauk (2012), "Investigating the effects of dietary folic acid on sperm count, DNA damage and mutation in Balb/c mice", Mutat. Res., 737(1-2): 1-7.
Vilarino-Guell, C., A.G. Smith and Y.E. Dubrova (2003), "Germline mutation induction at mouse repeat DNA loci by chemical mutagens", 'Mutat. Res., 526(1-2): 63-73.
Yauk, C.L., Y.E. Dubrova, G.R. Grant and A.J. Jeffreys (2002), "A novel single molecule analysis of spontaneous and radiation-induced mutation at a mouse tandem repeat locus", Mutat Res., 500(1-2): 147-156.
Yauk, C.L., L.J. Argueso, S.S. Auerbach, P. Awadalla, S.R. Davis, D.M. Demarini, G.R. Douglas, Y.E. Dubrova, R.K. Elespuru, T.M. Glover, B.F. Hales , M.E. Hurles, C.B. Klein, J.R. Lupski, D.K. Manchester, F. Marchetti, A. Montpetit, J.J. Mulvihill, B. Robaire, W.A. Robbins, G.A. Rouleau, D.T. Shaughnessy, C.M. Somers, J.G. Taylor 6th, J. Trasler, M.D. Waters, T.E. Wilson, K.L. Witt and J.B. Bishop (2013), "Harnessing genomics to identify environmental determinants of heritable disease" Mutation Research, 752(1): 6-9.