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Cancer Res. 2001 Aug 1;61(15):5710-3.

Modest increased sensitivity to radiation oncogenesis in ATM heterozygous versus wild-type mammalian cells.

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  • 1Center for Radiological Research, Columbia University, 630 West 168th Street, New York, NY 10032, USA.
  • 2Columbia U, NY


Subpopulations that are genetically predisposed to radiation-induced cancer could have significant public health consequences. Individuals homozygous for null mutations at the ataxia telangiectasia gene are indeed highly radiosensitive, but their numbers are very small. Ataxia Telangiectasia heterozygotes (1-2% of the population) have been associated with somewhat increased radiosensitivity for some end points, but none directly related to carcinogenesis. Here, intralitter comparisons between wild-type mouse embryo fibroblasts and mouse embryo fibroblasts carrying ataxia telangiectasia mutated (ATM) null mutation indicate that the heterozygous cells are more sensitive to radiation oncogenesis than their normal, litter-matched, counterparts. From these data we suggest that Ataxia Telangiectasia heterozygotes could indeed represent a societally-significant radiosensitive human subpopulation.

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