Use of a microscope stage-mounted Nickel-63 microirradiator for real-time observation of the DNA double-strand break response

Institute of Molecular Medicine and Genetics, Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, Georgia, USA.
Nucleic Acids Research (Impact Factor: 9.11). 08/2010; 38(14):e144. DOI: 10.1093/nar/gkq409
Source: PubMed


Eukaryotic cells begin to assemble discrete, nucleoplasmic repair foci within seconds after the onset of exposure to ionizing radiation. Real-time imaging of this assembly has the potential to further our understanding of the effects of medical and environmental radiation exposure. Here, we describe a microirradiation system for targeted delivery of ionizing radiation to individual cells without the need for specialized facilities. The system consists of a 25-micron diameter electroplated Nickel-63 electrode, enveloped in a glass capillary and mounted in a micromanipulator. Because of the low energy of the beta radiation and the minute total amount of isotope present on the tip, the device can be safely handled with minimum precautions. We demonstrate the use of this system for tracking assembly of individual repair foci in real time in live U2OS human osteosarcoma cells. Results indicate that there is a subset of foci that appear and disappear rapidly, before a plateau level is reached approximately 30 min post-exposure. This subset of foci would not have been evident without real-time observation. The development of a microirradiation system that is compatible with a standard biomedical laboratory expands the potential for real-time investigation of the biological effects of ionizing radiation.

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    ABSTRACT: Foci of p53 binding protein 1 (53 BP1) have been used as a biomarker of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) in cells induced by ionizing radiations. 53 BP1 was shown to relocalize into foci shortly after irradiation, with the number of foci closely paralleling the number of DNA DSBs. However, consensus on criteria in terms of the numbers of 53 BP1 foci to define cells damaged by direct irradiation or by bystander signals has not been reached, which is partly due to the presence of 53 BP1 also in normal cells. The objective of the present work was to study the changes in the distribution of cells with different numbers of 53 BP1 foci in a cell population after low-dose ionizing irradiation (<0.1 Gy) provided by alpha particles, with a view to propose feasible criteria for defining cells damaged by direct irradiation or by bystander signals. It was proposed that the change in the percentage of cells with 1–3 foci should be used for such purposes. The underlying reasons were discussed.
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