To investigate the repairability of X-ray induced DNA damage, particularly non-double-strand breaks in living cells, enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP)-expressing plasmids X-ray irradiated and then transfected into nonirradiated human cells, MCF7 and MCF10A. Live-cell imaging of EGFP fluorescence was performed to measure the efficiency of plasmid repair in cells. The number of EGFP-expressing cells significantly decreased with increasing X-ray dose for both cell lines. The obtained kinetic curves of EGFP expression indicating plasmid repair were quantitatively compared against algebraically calculated ones based on the values of the transfected plasmids that had been treated with nicking or restriction enzymes. Then, assuming a Poisson distribution of single-strand breaks (SSBs), the number of cells carrying these nicked plasmids that could express EGFP were estimated. Our experimental results revealed considerably fewer cells expressing EGFP compared to the expected values we had calculated. These results suggest that the lower proportion of cells expressing EGFP as a measure of plasmid repair was due not only to the complex chemical structures of termini created by SSBs compared to those created by enzyme treatments, but also that base lesions or AP sites proximately arising at the strand-break termini might compromise EGFP expression. These results emphasize that radiation-induced DNA breaks are less repairable than enzymatically induced DNA breaks, which is not apparent when using conventional gel electrophoresis assays of plasmid DNA.
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Vol. 196 • No. 3