Bystander effect: biological endpoints and microarray analysis

M Ahmad Chaudhry
Mutation Research 2006 May 11, 597 (1): 98-112
In cell populations exposed to ionizing radiation, the biological effects occur in a much larger proportion of cells than are estimated to be traversed by radiation. It has been suggested that irradiated cells are capable of providing signals to the neighboring unirradiated cells resulting in damage to these cells. This phenomenon is termed the bystander effect. The bystander effect induces persistent, long-term, transmissible changes that result in delayed death and neoplastic transformation. Because the bystander effect is relevant to carcinogenesis, it could have significant implications for risk estimation for radiation exposure. The nature of the bystander effect signal and how it impacts the unirradiated cells remains to be elucidated. Examination of the changes in gene expression could provide clues to understanding the bystander effect and could define the signaling pathways involved in sustaining damage to these cells. The microarray technology serves as a tool to gain insight into the molecular pathways leading to bystander effect. Using medium from irradiated normal human diploid lung fibroblasts as a model system we examined gene expression alterations in bystander cells. The microarray data revealed that the radiation-induced gene expression profile in irradiated cells is different from unirradiated bystander cells suggesting that the pathways leading to biological effects in the bystander cells are different from the directly irradiated cells. The genes known to be responsive to ionizing radiation were observed in irradiated cells. Several genes were upregulated in cells receiving media from irradiated cells. Surprisingly no genes were found to be downregulated in these cells. A number of genes belonging to extracellular signaling, growth factors and several receptors were identified in bystander cells. Interestingly 15 genes involved in the cell communication processes were found to be upregulated. The induction of receptors and the cell communication processes in bystander cells receiving media from irradiated cells supports the active involvement of these processes in inducing bystander effect.

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