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PLoS One. 2015 Mar 31;10(3):e0122582. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0122582. eCollection 2015.

Pre-exposure to ionizing radiation stimulates DNA double strand break end resection, promoting the use of homologous recombination repair.

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Research Center for Charged Particle Therapy and International Open Laboratory, National Institute of Radiological Sciences, Chiba, Japan.
Advanced Scientific Research Leaders Development Unit, Gunma University, Maebashi, Gunma, Japan.
Department of Radiation Oncology, Gunma University, Maebashi, Gunma, Japan.


The choice of DNA double strand break (DSB) repair pathway is determined at the stage of DSB end resection. Resection was proposed to control the balance between the two major DSB repair pathways, homologous recombination (HR) and non-homologous end joining (NHEJ). Here, we examined the regulation of DSB repair pathway choice at two-ended DSBs following ionizing radiation (IR) in G2 phase of the cell cycle. We found that cells pre-exposed to low-dose IR preferred to undergo HR following challenge IR in G2, whereas NHEJ repair kinetics in G1 were not affected by pre-IR treatment. Consistent with the increase in HR usage, the challenge IR induced Replication protein A (RPA) foci formation and RPA phosphorylation, a marker of resection, were enhanced by pre-IR. However, neither major DNA damage signals nor the status of core NHEJ proteins, which influence the choice of repair pathway, was significantly altered in pre-IR treated cells. Moreover, the increase in usage of HR due to pre-IR exposure was prevented by treatment with ATM inhibitor during the incubation period between pre-IR and challenge IR. Taken together, the results of our study suggest that the ATM-dependent damage response after pre-IR changes the cellular environment, possibly by regulating gene expression or post-transcriptional modifications in a manner that promotes resection.

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