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Biophys Chem. 2018 Jul;238:1-7. doi: 10.1016/j.bpc.2018.04.003. Epub 2018 Apr 20.

Physical principles and new applications of comet assay.

Author information

1
Department of General and Medical Genetics, Taras Shevchenko National University, 64/13, Volodymyrska Street, 01601 Kiev, Ukraine.
2
Department of General and Medical Genetics, Taras Shevchenko National University, 64/13, Volodymyrska Street, 01601 Kiev, Ukraine. Electronic address: sivolob@univ.kiev.ua.

Abstract

The comet assay is a sensitive method to assess DNA damages in single cells. The approach consists of an analysis of electrophoretic migration of DNA from nucleoids obtained after cell lysis in a thin layer of agarose. Although the method is widely used the physical mechanisms of DNA track formation remained to be rather elusive for a long time. This review is devoted to our recent results pertaining to this subject, using an original approach based on the kinetic measurements of the comet formation. We argue that linear DNA fragments give an essential contribution into the tail formation in the alkaline conditions and, at neutral pH, when the level of DNA damages is very high. On the other hand, in the neutral comet assay at low levels of DNA damages (and also in the case of undamaged cells) the tail is formed by extended DNA loops. These loops are about the same as chromatin loops in the cell nuclei. Kinetic measurements in the comet assay give an opportunity to investigate the topology of the loops and large-scale features of the loop domain organization (and re-organization) in nucleoids obtained from different cell types.

KEYWORDS:

Comet assay; DNA loops; Kinetics of electrophoretic migration

PMID:
29704770
DOI:
10.1016/j.bpc.2018.04.003
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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