DNA fragmentation in mammalian cells exposed to various light ions

M. Belli, R. Cherubini, M. Dalla Vecchia, V. Dini, G. Esposito, G. Moschini, O. Sapora, C. Signoretti, G. Simone, E. Sorrentino, M. A. Tabocchini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Elucidation of how effects of densely ionizing radiation at cellular level are linked to DNA damage is fundamental for a better understanding of the mechanisms leading to genomic damage (especially chromosome aberrations) and developing biophysical models to predict space radiation effects. We have investigated the DNA fragmentation patterns induced in Chinese hamster V79 cells by 31 keV/μm protons, 123 keV/μm helium-4 ions and υ-rays in the size range 0.023-5.7 Mbp, using calibrated Pulsed Field Gel Electrophoresis (PFGE). The frequency distributions of fragments induced by the charged particles were shifted towards smaller sizes with respect to that induced by comparable doses of υ-rays. The DSB yields, evaluated from the fragments induced in the size range studied, were higher for protons and helium ions than for υ-rays by a factor of about 109 and 1.2, respectively. However, these ratios do not adequately reflect the RBE observed on the same cells for inactivation and mutation induced by these beams. This as a further indication for the lack of correlation between the effects exerted at cellular level and the initial yield of DSB. The dependence on radiation quality of the fragmentation pattern suggests that it may have a role in damage reparability. We have analyzed these patterns with a "random breakage" model generalized in order to consider the initial non-random distribution of the DNA molecules. Our results suggest that a random breakage mechanism can describe with a reasonable approximation the DNA fragmentation induced by υ-rays, while the approximation is not so good for light ions, likely due to the interplay between ion tracks and chromatin organization at the loop level.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)393-399
Number of pages7
JournalAdvances in Space Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Geophysics
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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