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Radiat Res. 2009 Mar;171(3):360-7. doi: 10.1667/RR1349.1.

Development of an automated gamma-H2AX immunocytochemistry assay.

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  • 1Department of Radiation Oncology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York, USA.


gamma-H2AX is emerging as an important marker of ionizing radiation-induced double-strand breaks. Development of a significantly automated method to quantify gamma-H2AX would have broad application in assessing physiological responses to radiation exposure. PC-3 and DU145 prostate cancer cells grown on glass cover slips and 96-well plates were irradiated and assessed for gamma-H2AX focus formation by immunofluorescence analysis. The gamma-H2AX immunofluorescence staining was performed either manually or by using a preprogrammed automated robotic liquid handling system. A computer-controlled charge-coupled device camera acquired images serially throughout the thickness of each cell. Image analysis was performed manually and/or with automated image segmentation software. A robust relationship between radiation dose and gamma-H2AX focus numbers was demonstrated with both manual and automated image analysis methods, with excellent agreement observed between the two techniques. The r(2) correlation coefficients and Z factors exceeded 0.9 and 0.5, respectively, when gamma-H2AX focus formation was correlated with radiation dose using the automated technique. Inhibition of gamma-H2AX foci by drugs readily detected with this assay. Robotic specimen preparation with automated image acquisition and analysis can be used to quantify gamma-H2AX foci in irradiated cells, and the results agree well those obtained by manual counts. These data suggest that this assay has an excellent signal-to-noise ratio and is suitable for high-throughput applications.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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