TN-368 lepidopteran insect cells are on the order of 100 times more resistant to the lethal effects of ionizing radiation than cultured mammalian cells. DNA double-strand breaks (DSB) are believed by many to be the critical molecular lesion leading to cell death. We have therefore compared the rejoining of DSB in TN-368 and V79 Chinese hamster cells. Cells were irradiated on ice with137 Cs γ rays at a dose rate of 2.5 Gy/min, incubated for various periods of time, and assayed for DNA DSB using the method of neutral elution. The kinetics of DSB rejoining following a dose of 90.2 Gy is similar for both cell lines with 50% of the rejoining completed in about 12 min. Approximately 83 and 87% of the DSB are rejoined in the TN-368 and V79 cells, respectively, by 1 h postirradiation. However, no further rejoining occurs in the TN-368 cells through at least 6 h postirradiation, whereas approximately 92% of the DSB are rejoined in the V79 cells by 2 h postirradiation. Other studies (from 22.6 to 226 Gy) demonstrate that the amount of rejoining of DSB varies inversely with dose for both cell lines, but this relationship is not as pronounced for the TN-368 cells. In general, these findings do not support the hypothesis that unrejoined DNA DSB represent the critical molecular lesion responsible for cell death.

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