In this study, we studied the effect of 2.0 GHz radio frequency electromagnetic field (RF-EMF) and 50 Hz extremely low frequency electromagnetic field (ELF-EMF) exposure on prion generation and propagation using two budding yeast strains, NT64C and SB34, as model organisms. Under exposure to RF-EMF or ELF-EMF, the de novo generation and propagation of yeast prions [URE3] were elevated in both strains. The elevation increased over time, and the effects of ELF-EMF occurred in a dose-dependent manner. The transcription and expression levels of the molecular chaperones Hsp104, Hsp70-Ssa1/2, and Hsp40-Ydj1 were not statistically significantly changed after exposure. Furthermore, the levels of ROS, as well as the activities of superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase (CAT), were significantly elevated after short-term, but not long-term exposure. This work demonstrated for the first time that EMF exposure could elevate the de novo generation and propagation of yeast prions and supports the hypothesis that ROS may play a role in the effects of EMF on protein misfolding. The effects of EMF on protein folding and ROS levels may mediate the broad effects of EMF on cell function.
Keywords: ELF-EMF; Prion; RF-EMF; ROS; URE3.