The major DNA repair pathway after both proton and carbon-ion radiation is NHEJ, but the HR pathway is more relevant in carbon ions

Ariungerel Gerelchuluun, Eri Manabe, Takaaki Ishikawa, Lue Sun, Kazuya Itoh, Takeji Sakae, Kenshi Suzuki, Ryoichi Hirayama, Aroumougame Asaithamby, David J Chen, Koji Tsuboi
Radiation Research 2015, 183 (3): 345-56
The purpose of this study was to identify the roles of non-homologous end-joining (NHEJ) or homologous recombination (HR) pathways in repairing DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) induced by exposure to high-energy protons and carbon ions (C ions) versus gamma rays in Chinese hamster cells. Two Chinese hamster cell lines, ovary AA8 and lung fibroblast V79, as well as various mutant sublines lacking DNA-PKcs (V3), X-ray repair cross-complementing protein-4 [XRCC4 (XR1), XRCC3 (irs1SF) and XRCC2 (irs1)] were exposed to gamma rays ((137)Cs), protons (200 MeV; 2.2 keV/μm) and C ions (290 MeV; 50 keV/μm). V3 and XR1 cells lack the NHEJ pathway, whereas irs1 and irs1SF cells lack the HR pathway. After each exposure, survival was measured using a clonogenic survival assay, in situ DSB induction was evaluated by immunocytochemical analysis of histone H2AX phosphorylation at serine 139 (γ-H2AX foci) and chromosome aberrations were examined using solid staining. The findings from this study showed that clonogenic survival clearly depended on the NHEJ and HR pathway statuses, and that the DNA-PKcs(-/-) cells (V3) were the most sensitive to all radiation types. While protons and γ rays yielded almost the same biological effects, C-ion exposure greatly enhanced the sensitivity of wild-type and HR-deficient cells. However, no significant enhancement of sensitivity in cell killing was seen after C-ion irradiation of NHEJ deficient cells. Decreases in the number of γ-H2AX foci after irradiation occurred more slowly in the NHEJ deficient cells. In particular, V3 cells had the highest number of residual γ-H2AX foci at 24 h after C-ion irradiation. Chromosomal aberrations were significantly higher in both the NHEJ- and HR-deficient cell lines than in wild-type cell lines in response to all radiation types. Protons and gamma rays induced the same aberration levels in each cell line, whereas C ions introduced higher but not significantly different aberration levels. Our results suggest that the NHEJ pathway plays an important role in repairing DSBs induced by both clinical proton and C-ion beams. Furthermore, in C ions the HR pathway appears to be involved in the repair of DSBs to a greater extent compared to gamma rays and protons.

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