Mechanisms of the formation of radiation-induced chromosomal aberrations

Peter Edward Bryant, Andrew Clive Riches, Samantha Yorna Armstrong Terry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Although much is now known about the mechanisms of radiation-induction of DNA double-strand breaks (DSB), there is less known about the conversion of DSB into chromosomal aberrations. In particular the induction and ‘rejoining’ of chromatid breaks has been a controversial topic for many years. However, its importance becomes clear in the light of the wide variation in the chromatid break response of human peripheral blood lymphocytes from different individuals when exposed to ionizing radiation, and the elevation of the frequency of radiation-induced chromatid breaks in stimulated peripheral blood lymphocytes of around 40% of breast cancer cases. A common assumption has been that chromatid breaks are merely expansions of initiating DSB, although the classic ‘breakage-first’ hypothesis (Sax, Ref. 44) was already challenged in the 50's by Revell [30] who maintained that chromatid breaks were formed as a result of an incomplete exchange process initiated by two interacting lesions of an unspecified nature. Here we argue that both these models of chromatid break formation are flawed and we suggest an alternative hypothesis, namely that a radiation-induced DSB initiates an indirect mechanism leading to a chromatid break. This mechanism we suggest involves the nuclear enzyme topoisomerase IIα and we present evidence from topoisomerase IIα expression variant human cell lines and from siRNA treatment of human cells that supports this hypothesis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-26
JournalMutation Research - Genetic Toxicology and Environmental Mutagenesis
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 14 Aug 2010


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