Sunlight ultraviolet (UV) radiation constitutes an important environmental genotoxic agent that organisms are exposed to, as it can damage DNA directly, generating pyrimidine dimers, and indirectly, generating oxidized bases and single-strand breaks (SSBs). These lesions can lead to mutations, triggering skin and eye disorders, including carcinogenesis and photoaging. Stratospheric ozone layer depletion, particularly in the Antarctic continent, predicts an uncertain scenario of UV incidence on the Earth in the next decades. This research evaluates the DNA damage caused by environmental exposure to late spring sunlight in the Antarctic Peninsula, where the ozone layer hole is more pronounced. These experiments were performed at the Brazilian Comandante Ferraz Antarctic Station, at King's George Island, South Shetlands Islands. For comparison, tropical regions were also analyzed. Samples of plasmid DNA were exposed to sunlight. Cyclobutane pyrimidine dimers (CPDs), oxidized base damage and SSBs were detected using specific enzymes. In addition, an immunological approach was used to detect CPDs. The results reveal high levels of DNA damage induced by exposure under the Antarctic sunlight, inversely correlated with ozone layer thickness, confirming the high impact of ozone layer depletion on the DNA damaging action of sunlight in Antarctica.
© 2020 American Society for Photobiology.