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      Evidence for a lack of DNA double-strand break repair in human cells exposed to very low x-ray doses

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          Abstract

          DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) are generally accepted to be the most biologically significant lesion by which ionizing radiation causes cancer and hereditary disease. However, no information on the induction and processing of DSBs after physiologically relevant radiation doses is available. Many of the methods used to measure DSB repair inadvertently introduce this form of damage as part of the methodology, and hence are limited in their sensitivity. Here we present evidence that foci of gamma-H2AX (a phosphorylated histone), detected by immunofluorescence, are quantitatively the same as DSBs and are capable of quantifying the repair of individual DSBs. This finding allows the investigation of DSB repair after radiation doses as low as 1 mGy, an improvement by several orders of magnitude over current methods. Surprisingly, DSBs induced in cultures of nondividing primary human fibroblasts by very low radiation doses (approximately 1 mGy) remain unrepaired for many days, in strong contrast to efficient DSB repair that is observed at higher doses. However, the level of DSBs in irradiated cultures decreases to that of unirradiated cell cultures if the cells are allowed to proliferate after irradiation, and we present evidence that this effect may be caused by an elimination of the cells carrying unrepaired DSBs. The results presented are in contrast to current models of risk assessment that assume that cellular responses are equally efficient at low and high doses, and provide the opportunity to employ gamma-H2AX foci formation as a direct biomarker for human exposure to low quantities of ionizing radiation.

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          Recombinational DNA double-strand breaks in mice precede synapsis.

          In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, meiotic recombination is initiated by Spo11-dependent double-strand breaks (DSBs), a process that precedes homologous synapsis. Here we use an antibody specific for a phosphorylated histone (gamma-H2AX, which marks the sites of DSBs) to investigate the timing, distribution and Spo11-dependence of meiotic DSBs in the mouse. We show that, as in yeast, recombination in the mouse is initiated by Spo11-dependent DSBs that form during leptotene. Loss of gamma-H2AX staining (which in irradiated somatic cells is temporally linked with DSB repair) is temporally and spatially correlated with synapsis, even when this synapsis is 'non-homologous'.
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            Chromosomal stability and the DNA double-stranded break connection.

            Genome stability is of primary importance for the survival and proper functioning of all organisms. Double-stranded breaks in DNA are important threats to genome integrity because they can result in chromosomal aberrations that can affect, simultaneously, many genes, and lead to cell malfunctioning and cell death. These detrimental consequences are counteracted by two mechanistically distinct pathways of double-stranded break repair: homologous recombination and non-homologous end-joining. Recently, unexpected links between these double-stranded break-repair systems, and several human genome instability and cancer predisposition syndromes, have emerged. Now, interactions between both double-stranded break-repair pathways and other cellular processes, such as cell-cycle regulation and replication, are being unveiled.
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              Initiation of DNA fragmentation during apoptosis induces phosphorylation of H2AX histone at serine 139.

              Histone H2AX is a ubiquitous member of the H2A histone family that differs from the other H2A histones by the presence of an evolutionarily conserved C-terminal motif, -KKATQASQEY. The serine residue in this motif becomes rapidly phosphorylated in cells and animals when DNA double-stranded breaks are introduced into their chromatin by various physical and chemical means. In the present communication we show that this phosphorylated form of H2AX, referred to as gamma-H2AX, appears during apoptosis concurrently with the initial appearance of high molecular weight DNA fragments. gamma-H2AX forms before the appearance of internucleosomal DNA fragments and the externalization of phosphatidylserine to the outer membrane leaflet. gamma-H2AX formation is inhibited by N-benzyloxycarbonyl-Val-Ala-Asp-fluoromethyl ketone and the inhibitor of caspase-activated DNase, and it is induced when DNase I and restriction enzymes are introduced into cells, suggesting that any apoptotic endonuclease is sufficient to induce gamma-H2AX formation. These results indicate that gamma-H2AX formation is an early chromatin modification following initiation of DNA fragmentation during apoptosis.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                0027-8424
                1091-6490
                April 29 2003
                April 04 2003
                April 29 2003
                : 100
                : 9
                : 5057-5062
                Article
                10.1073/pnas.0830918100
                154297
                12679524
                38501703-f6eb-4911-b320-3895e8feb423
                © 2003
                Product
                Self URI (article page): http://www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.0830918100

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