Chronic low-dose γ-irradiation of Drosophila melanogaster larvae induces gene expression changes and enhances locomotive behavior

J Radiat Res. 2015 May;56(3):475-84. doi: 10.1093/jrr/rru128. Epub 2015 Mar 19.


Although radiation effects have been extensively studied, the biological effects of low-dose radiation (LDR) are controversial. This study investigates LDR-induced alterations in locomotive behavior and gene expression profiles of Drosophila melanogaster. We measured locomotive behavior using larval pupation height and the rapid iterative negative geotaxis (RING) assay after exposure to 0.1 Gy γ-radiation (dose rate of 16.7 mGy/h). We also observed chronic LDR effects on development (pupation and eclosion rates) and longevity (life span). To identify chronic LDR effects on gene expression, we performed whole-genome expression analysis using gene-expression microarrays, and confirmed the results using quantitative real-time PCR. The pupation height of the LDR-treated group at the first larval instar was significantly higher (∼2-fold increase in PHI value, P < 0.05). The locomotive behavior of LDR-treated male flies (∼3 - 5 weeks of age) was significantly increased by 7.7%, 29% and 138%, respectively (P < 0.01), but pupation and eclosion rates and life spans were not significantly altered. Genome-wide expression analysis identified 344 genes that were differentially expressed in irradiated larvae compared with in control larvae. We identified several genes belonging to larval behavior functional groups such as locomotion (1.1%), oxidation reduction (8.0%), and genes involved in conventional functional groups modulated by irradiation such as defense response (4.9%), and sensory and perception (2.5%). Four candidate genes were confirmed as differentially expressed genes in irradiated larvae using qRT-PCR (>2-fold change). These data suggest that LDR stimulates locomotion-related genes, and these genes can be used as potential markers for LDR.

Keywords: Drosophila behavior; gene expression microarray; locomotion; low-dose radiation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / radiation effects*
  • Gamma Rays*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / physiology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / radiation effects
  • Larva / physiology
  • Larva / radiation effects
  • Locomotion / physiology*
  • Locomotion / radiation effects
  • Radiation Dosage
  • Whole-Body Irradiation / methods


  • Drosophila Proteins