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J Natl Cancer Inst. 1990 Jun 20;82(12):1050-4.

Enhanced chromatid damage in blood lymphocytes after G2 phase x irradiation, a marker of the ataxia-telangiectasia gene.

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  • 1Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Biology, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892.


An assay for ataxia-telangiectasia (A-T) heterozygotes, i.e., healthy carriers of the A-T gene(s), requiring only a small sample (3.5 mL) of peripheral blood, is described. Frequencies of chromatid aberrations in phytohemagglutinin-stimulated blood lymphocytes collected by demecolcine from 0.5 hour to 1.5 hours after x irradiation with 58 roentgens were twofold to threefold higher in A-T heterozygotes than in clinically normal controls and twofold to three-fold higher in A-T patients (homozygotes) than in A-T gene carriers. The persistence of chromatid breaks and gaps in lymphocytes following radiation-induced DNA damage during G2 suggests a deficiency or deficiencies in DNA repair that may be the defect at the molecular level that results in the enhanced radiosensitivity and cancer proneness characterizing A-T gene carriers and patients.

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