RKO36 cells exposed to either WR1065 or 10 cGy X rays show elevated SOD2 gene expression and SOD2 enzymatic activity. Cells challenged at this time with 2 Gy exhibit enhanced radiation resistance. This phenomenon has been identified as a delayed radioprotective effect or an adaptive response when induced by thiols or low-dose radiation, respectively. In this study we investigated the relative effectiveness of both WR1065 and low-dose radiation in reducing the incidence of radiation-induced micronucleus formation in binucleated RKO36 human colon carcinoma cells. The role of SOD2 in this process was assessed by measuring changes in enzymatic activity as a function of the inducing agent used, the level of protection afforded, and the inhibitory effects of short interfering RNA (SOD2 siRNA). Both WR1065 and 10 cGy X rays effectively induced a greater than threefold elevation in SOD2 activity 24 h after exposure. Cells irradiated at this time with 2 Gy exhibited a significant resistance to micronucleus formation (P < 0.05; Student's two-tailed t test). This protective effect was significantly inhibited in cells transfected with SOD2 siRNA. SOD2 played an important role in the adaptive/delayed radioprotective response by inhibiting the initiation of a superoxide anion-induced ROS cascade leading to enhanced mitochondrial and nuclear damages.
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Vol. 175 • No. 1