Kumagai, J., Masui, K., Itagaki, Y., Shiotani, M., Kodama, S., Watanabe, M. and Miyazaki, T. Long-Lived Mutagenic Radicals Induced in Mammalian Cells by Ionizing Radiation are Mainly Localized to Proteins. Radiat. Res. 160, 95–102 (2003).
We have provided evidence that long-lived radicals, produced by ionizing radiation, are highly mutagenic and transforming in mammalian cells. Long-lived radicals are scavenged effectively by vitamin C or by epigallocatechin-3-O-gallate (EGCG). Long-lived radicals are not involved in lethality or in the induction of chromosome aberrations. We now report the results of experiments that define the relative amounts of long-lived radicals in DNA and proteins and identify the major protein radicals as sulfinyl radicals (R-CH2-S-O·). To make these assignments, yields of long-lived radicals in γ-irradiated salmon sperm DNA and albumin were compared by ESR. ESR spectra of long-lived radicals produced in irradiated Syrian hamster embryo (SHE) cells were analyzed precisely and compared with ESR parameters obtained by density functional theory calculations. Long-lived radicals yields of 99.8% were produced in proteins. We also identified a new type of long-lived radical as H-added phenylalanine radicals. While our evidence does not rule out the possibility of important biological consequences of the low-level long-lived radicals created by radiation, it implicates radicals in proteins as playing a key role in genetic effects of ionizing radiation. We suggest that these novel radicals, wherever they reside, need to be considered in explanations of biological sequela of radiation.