The in vivo mouse transgenic pKZ1 chromosomal inversion assay is a sensitive assay that responds to very low doses of DNA-damaging agents. pKZ1 inversions are measured as the frequency of cells expressing E. coli β-galactosidase protein, which can only be produced from an inverted pKZ1 transgene. In previous studies we reported that a single whole-body low dose of 0.01 mGy X rays alone caused an increase in pKZ1 chromosomal inversions in spleen when analyzed 3 days postirradiation, and yet this same dose could protect from high-dose-induced inversions when delivered as a conditioning dose 4 h before or after a 1 Gy challenge dose. In an attempt to explain these results, we performed temporal studies over a wide radiation dose range to determine if the inversion response was temporally different at different doses. pKZ1 mice were irradiated with a single whole-body X-ray dose of 0.01 mGy, 1 mGy or 1 Gy, and spleen sections were then analyzed for pKZ1 inversions at 7 h, 1 day or 7 days after exposure. No change in inversion frequency was observed at the 7 h time point at any dose. At day 1, an increase in inversions was observed in response to the 0.01 mGy dose, whereas a decrease in inversions below sham-treated frequency was observed for the 1 mGy dose. Inversion frequency for both doses returned to sham-treated inversion frequency by day 7. To our knowledge, this is the first reported study to examine the temporal nature of a radiation response spanning a wide dose range, including doses relevant to occupational exposure, and the results are dynamic and dose specific. The results suggest that inversions induced after low-dose irradiation are removed by homeostatic mechanisms within a short time frame, and underscore the importance of studying responses over a period of time when interpreting radiation effects.
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Vol. 185 • No. 6