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Radiat Res. 1996 Feb;145(2):188-99.

Clusters of DNA induced by ionizing radiation: formation of short DNA fragments. I. Theoretical modeling.

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Life Sciences Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley 94720, USA.
Lawrence Berkeley Labs, Berkeley, CA


We have developed a general theoretical model for the interaction of ionizing radiation with chromatin. Chromatin is modeled as a 30-nm-diameter solenoidal fiber comprised of 20 turns of nucleosomes, 6 nucleosomes per turn. Charged-particle tracks are modeled by partitioning the energy deposition between primary track core, resulting from glancing collisions with 100 eV or less per event, and delta rays due to knock-on collisions involving energy transfers >100 eV. A Monte Carlo simulation incorporates damages due to the following molecular mechanisms: (1) ionization of water molecules leading to the formation of OH, H, eaq, etc.; (2) OH attack on sugar molecules leading to strand breaks: (3) OH attack on bases; (4) direct ionization of the sugar molecules leading to strand breaks; (5) direct ionization of the bases. Our calculations predict significant clustering of damage both locally, over regions up to 40 bp and over regions extending to several kilobase pairs. A characteristic feature of the regional damage predicted by our model is the production of short fragments of DNA associated with multiple nearby strand breaks. The shapes of the spectra of DNA fragment lengths depend on the symmetries or approximate symmetries of the chromatin structure. Such fragments have subsequently been detected experimentally and are reported in an accompanying paper (B. Rydberg, Radiat, Res. 145, 200-209, 1996) after exposure to both high- and low-LET radiation. The overall measured yields agree well quantitatively with the theoretical predictions. Our theoretical results predict the existence of a strong peak at about 85 bp, which represents the revolution period about the nucleosome. Other peaks at multiples of about 1,000 bp correspond to the periodicity of the particular solenoid model of chromatin used in these calculations. Theoretical results in combination with experimental data on fragmentation spectra may help determine the consensus or average structure of the chromatin fibers in mammalian DNA.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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