DNA damage| Volume 102, ISSUE 3, P466-471, March 2012

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DNA damage by X-rays and their impact on replication processes

Published:February 13, 2012DOI:



      Replication-dependent radiosensitization of tumors ranks among the most promising tools for future improvements in tumor therapy. However, cell cycle checkpoint signaling during S phase is a key for maintaining genomic stability after ionizing irradiation allowing DNA damage repair by stabilizing replication forks, inhibiting new origin firing and recruiting DNA repair proteins. As the impact of the different types of DNA damage induced by ionizing radiation on replication fork functionality has not been investigated, this study was performed in tumor cells treated with various agents that induce specific DNA lesions.


      U2OS cells were exposed to methyl methanesulfonate (MMS) to induce base damage, low or high concentrations of hydrogen peroxide for the induction of SSBs, Topotecan to induce DSBs at replication, Mitomycin C (MMC) to induce interstrand cross-links or ionizing irradiation to analyze all damages. Chk1 phosphorylation, origin firing and replication fork progression, and cell cycle distribution were analyzed.


      In our system, the extent of Chk1 phosphorylation was dependent on the type of damage induced and prolonged Chk1 phosphorylation correlated with the inhibition of replication initiation. Ionizing radiation, high concentrations of hydrogen peroxide, and Topotecan affected replication elongation much more strongly that the other agents. Almost all agents induced a slight increase in the S phase population but subsequent G2 arrest was only observed in response to those agents that strongly inhibited replication elongation and caused prolonged Chk1 phosphorylation.


      Our data suggest that to improve radiotherapy, radiosensitivity in S phase could be increased by combining irradiation with agents that induce secondary DSB or inhibit checkpoint signaling, such as inhibitors of PARP or Chk1.


      BD (base damage), DDR (DNA damage response), DSB (double strand break), ICL (interstrand crosslink), MMC (Mitomycin C), MMS (methyl methanesulfonate), SSB (single strand break)


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