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Biochemistry. 2000 Jul 11;39(27):8026-31.

Clustered damages and total lesions induced in DNA by ionizing radiation: oxidized bases and strand breaks.

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  • 1Biology Department, Building 463, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, New York 11973-5000, USA. bms@bnl.gov


Ionizing radiation induces both isolated DNA lesions and clustered damages-multiple closely spaced lesions (strand breaks, oxidized purines, oxidized pyrimidines, or abasic sites within a few helical turns). Such clusters are postulated to be difficult to repair and thus potentially lethal or mutagenic lesions. Using highly purified enzymes that cleave DNA at specific classes of damage and electrophoretic assays developed for quantifying isolated and clustered damages in high molecular length genomic DNAs, we determined the relative frequencies of total lesions and of clustered damages involving both strands, and the composition and origin of such clusters. The relative frequency of isolated vs clustered damages depends on the identity of the lesion, with approximately 15-18% of oxidized purines, pyrimidines, or abasic sites in clusters recognized by Fpg, Nth, or Nfo proteins, respectively, but only about half that level of frank single strand breaks in double strand breaks. Oxidized base clusters and abasic site clusters constitute about 80% of complex damages, while double strand breaks comprise only approximately 20% of the total. The data also show that each cluster results from a single radiation (track) event, and thus clusters will be formed at low as well as high radiation doses.

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