Constancy of the relative biological effectiveness of 42 MeV (p—>Be+) neutrons among cell lines with different DNA repair proficiencies

R A Britten, D Murray
Radiation Research 1997, 148 (4): 308-16
An important approach to understanding the role of the various DNA repair pathways in the cellular response to DNA-damaging agents is through the study of repair-deficient mutant cell lines. In the present study we used this strategy to assess the relative importance of four of these pathways for the repair of DNA damage induced by low-linear energy transfer (LET) gamma rays and intermediate-LET 42 MeV (p-->Be+) fast neutrons. The panel of hamster cell mutants that we characterized for their relative sensitivity to fast neutrons and gamma rays includes cell lines with defects in the nucleotide excision repair pathway; these can be further subdivided into mutants which are defective in nucleotide excision repair alone [UV5 (ERCC2-), UV24 (ERCC3-), UV135 (ERCC5-) and UV61 (ERCC6-)] compared to those which have an associated defect in the distinct but overlapping pathway for the repair of DNA crosslinks [UV20 (ERCC1-) and UV41 (ERCC4-)]. We also examined mutants with defects in the base excision repair pathway [EM9 (XRCC1-)] and the DNA-dependent protein kinase (DNA-PK)-mediated DNA double-strand break (DSB) repair pathway [xrs5 (XRCC5-)]. None of the mutants defective in nucleotide excision repair was differentially sensitized to fast neutrons or gamma rays; in fact, the slight radiosensitivity of these mutants under aerated conditions may be secondary to their defect in nucleotide excision repair. In contrast, deficiency in the base excision repair pathway resulted in a significant primary sensitization to both types of radiation (1.95-fold to gamma rays and 1.79-fold to neutrons). Deficiency in the DSB repair pathway mediated by DNA-PK resulted in a marked, but again similar, primary sensitization to gamma rays (4.2-fold) and neutrons (5.1-fold). Thus none of the repair pathways examined here exhibited a preferential role for the repair of damage induced by low-LET compared to intermediate-LET radiations; this resulted in an essentially constant relative biological effectiveness (RBE) of approximately 2 among the cell lines studied, independent of their DNA repair proficiency. However, consideration of these data along with data published previously for high-LET alpha particles suggests that, whereas the DNA-PK pathway is important for the repair of DSBs induced by low- and intermediate-LET radiations, it becomes less important as the LET increases beyond 100 keV/microm; thus this pathway may not be involved in repairing the more complex lesions induced by densely ionizing high-LET particles.

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