Reported studies of DNA breakage induced by radiation of various qualities have generally shown a higher fraction of unrejoined residual breaks after high-LET exposure. This observation is supported by the argument that high-LET radiation induced DNA breaks that are more complex in nature and, thus, less likely to be repaired. In most cases the doses used in these studies were very high. We have studied unrejoined chromosome breaks by analyzing chromosome aberrations using a fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) technique with a combination of whole chromosome specific probes and probes specific for the telomere region of the chromosomes. Confluent human fibroblast cells (AG1522) were irradiated with gamma rays, 490 MeV/nucleon Si, or with Fe ions at either 200 and 500 MeV/nucleon, and were allowed to repair at 37 degrees C for 24 hours after exposure. A chemically induced premature chromosome condensation (PCC) technique was used to condense chromosomes in the G2 phase of the cell cycle. Results showed that the frequency of unrejoined chromosome breaks was higher after high-LET radiation, and the ratio of unrejoined to misrejoined chromosome breaks increased steadily with LET up a peak value at 440 keV/microm.
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