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Genes Against By-Product-Coking Industry


How can workers be protected from detrimental production factors? Russian researchers have come to the conclusion that this can be done by a large number of actively working ribosomal genes.

Specialists of the Chair of Genetics, Kemerovo State University, have discovered that people with a large number of actively working ribosomal genes are found more frequently among workers of the by-product coke plant than among ordinary townsmen (ribosomal genes are responsible for the ribosome structure). According to the researchers, activity of ribosomal genes protects their possessors from detrimental production factors.

Listing detrimental factors of by-product coke plants is a long and tiresome effort. Multiple toxic and mutagenic chemical agents, noise, vibration and temperature difference are destructive for health.

Nevertheless, a lot of people have been working in such environment for more than 20 years and feeling well. What is the matter? It has turned out that the point is the number of actively working ribosomal genes. Human genome contains excess amount of these genes. “Redundant” genes simply do not work, the remaining ribosomal genes providing for normal vital activity of the cell and the organism. People differ in individual doses of working ribosomal genes, this difference being hereditary.

Ribosomal genes are placed compactly in certain sections of chromosomes. Upon special coloring by silver nitrate, the active genes zone is seen as a black spot. The larger and the brighter the spot is, the more working ribosomal genes are contained in it.

Genetics have examined several dozens of workers of different sex and age from the by-product coke plant – Kemerovo joint-stock company KOKS (“Coke”). Having produced chromosomal preparations from the cells of peripheral blood, genetics made sure that there are more people among workers of the plant with high dose of active genes than those among healthy donors who do not contact with occupational hazard.

Along with that, the workers whose record of service exceeds 10 years have larger amount of active copies of ribosomal genes than the background donors and workers with the record of service under 10 years.

The researchers suggest two hypotheses for explanation of this phenomenon. Firstly, inactive copies may be enabled after the lapse of many years of work in harmful conditions.

Secondly, mainly workers with initial large number of active copies can endure working at the plant for more than ten years, the others would simply leave. Apparently, higher activity of ribosomal genes helps their possessors to adapt to difficult conditions of the by-product-coking industry.

Indeed, such people are less sensitive to mutagens. The Kemerovo researchers have ascertained that the cells with higher level of chromosomal derangements are found less frequently with the workers possessing a large number of working ribosomal genes. According to the researchers’ opinion, there is dependence between genetic sensitivity to production factors and an individual dose of active ribosomal genes. Therefore, it is expedient to check activity of these genes with all applicants for job at the by-product coke plant.

Sergey Komarov | alfa
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