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Radiat Res. 1992 Mar;129(3):304-8.

The ratio of dicentrics to centric rings produced in human lymphocytes by acute low-LET radiation.

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Joint Center for Radiation Therapy, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115.


Chromosome aberrations produced by ionizing radiation are assumed to develop from DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) which interact pairwise, in an exchange event. Dicentrics and centric rings are aberrations that exemplify inter- and intrachromosomal exchanges, respectively. We show from a survey of published data that for acute low-LET irradiation of resting human lymphocytes the observed ratio of dicentrics to centric rings is approximately five times smaller than predicted by a pairwise interaction model which assumes complete randomness. Such a low ratio can be interpreted as evidence for a proximity effect, favoring exchanges of an intrachromosomal type. That is, since DSBs induced close together have an above-average chance of pairwise interaction, the observed excess of centric rings indicates that at the time of irradiation there is some degree of spatial confinement for the two arms of a single chromosome. Assuming the excess of centric rings is indeed due to proximity effects, the data are used to estimate that the volume of a domain, within which any one lymphocyte chromosome is localized at one instant during the G0/G1 phase, is at most approximately 20% of the nuclear volume.

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