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The PIG‐A gene mutation assay in human biomonitoring and disease
Environmental and Molecular Mutagenesis
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The blood cell phosphatidylinositol glycan class A (PIG-A) gene mutation assay has been extensively researched in rodents for in vivo mutagenicity testing and is now being investigated in humans. The PIG-A gene is involved in glycosyl phosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchor biosynthesis. A single mutation...
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The blood cell phosphatidylinositol glycan class A (PIG-A) gene mutation assay has been extensively researched in rodents for in vivo mutagenicity testing and is now being investigated in humans. The PIG-A gene is involved in glycosyl phosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchor biosynthesis. A single mutation in this X-linked gene can lead to loss of membrane-bound GPI anchors, which can be enumerated via corresponding GPI-anchored proteins (e.g., CD55) using flow cytometry. The studies published to date by different research groups demonstrate a remarkable consistency in PIG-A mutant frequencies. Moreover, with the low background level of mutant erythrocytes in healthy subjects (2.9–5.56 × 10−6 mutants), induction of mutation post genotoxic exposure can be detected. Cigarette smoking, radiotherapy, and occupational exposures, including lead, have been shown to increase mutant levels. Future applications of this test include identifying new harmful agents and establishing new exposure limits. This mutational monitoring approach may also identify individuals at higher risk of cancer development. In addition, identifying protective agents that could mitigate these effects may reduce baseline somatic mutation levels and such behaviors can be encouraged. Further technological progress is required including establishing underlying mechanisms of GPI anchor loss, protocol standardization, and the development of cryopreservation methods to improve GPI-anchor stability over time. If successful, this assay has the potential be widely employed, for example, in rural and low-income countries. Here, we review the current literature on PIG-A mutation in humans and discuss the potential role of this assay in human biomonitoring and disease detection.
Biomonitoring, cancer, environmental exposures, mutation, occupational health
Faculty of Medicine, Health and Life Sciences