Radiation and viral DNA
Name: Loretta L Lamb
Can viral DNA be changed through exposure to radiation?
If so, what type of radiation will do this? Can these
irradiated viruses cause changes in the genome of any
human cells they may infect? Can these (or any) viruses
actually cause cancer, or do they merely act as triggering
devices for cancer?
In theory, any nucleic acid (viral or otherwise) can be
changed by exposure to many kinds of radiation. Depending
on the type of virus, these may then change the human cells
that they infect. Although there are many different things
that are being implicated in causing cancers, it looks like
a fairly common model involves the sequential "knockout" of
several human genes. Viruses may be one cause of such gene
changes, radiation and other environmental causes may also
contribute. Some of these changes may be inherited through
families, so it becomes more likely that the environmental
factors may happen to "hit" the right places in cells to cause
cancers in these families.
If you ask something more specific, perhaps I can focus my
response a bit more.
Click here to return to the Biology Archives
Update: June 2012