Gauter, B., Zlobinskaya, O. and Weber, K. J. Rejoining of Radiation-Induced DNA Double-Strand Breaks: Pulsed-Field Electrophoresis Analysis of Fragment Size Distributions after Incubation for Repair. Radiat. Res. 157, 721–733 (2002).
The repair of radiation-induced DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) is frequently investigated by measuring the time-dependent decrease in the fraction of fragmented DNA that is able to enter electrophoresis gels. When transformed into equivalent doses without repair, such measurements are thought to reflect the removal of DSBs, and they typically exhibit a fast initial component and a decreasing rate at longer repair intervals. This formalism, however, assumes that the spatial distribution of unrejoined breakage resembles the pattern of induction of DSBs. While the size distributions for initial fragmentation, such as that resolved by conventional pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) (between about 105 and 107 bp), are well known to agree with the prediction of random breakage, no data are available from studies explicitly testing this relationship for residual breakage. Therefore, Chinese hamster V79 cells and MeWo (human melanoma) cells were irradiated with different doses (10–100 Gy) or were incubated for repair for up to 4 h after a single dose of 100 Gy (V79) or 90 Gy (MeWo) before being subjected to PFGE. Fragment size distributions were calculated by convolution of the PFGE profiles with an appropriately generated size calibration function. The results clearly demonstrate an over-representation of smaller fragments (below about 2–3 Mbp) compared to the prediction of randomness for residual breakage. In consequence, the time-dependent decrease of dose-equivalent values calculated from data on the fraction released may not directly reflect DSB rejoining rates. The present findings are compatible with an earlier suggestion of slow rejoining of breaks which have been induced as multiple breaks (two or more) in large chromosomal loops, thus also predicting an increase of the slowly rejoining DSB fraction with increasing dose.