TN-3681 lepidopteran insect cells display a pronounced resistance to the lethal effects of ionizing radiation and exhibit superior DNA repair capabilities. When a TN-368 cell population entering stationary growth phase is irradiated with137 Cs γ rays and then incubated for several hours before cell dilution and plating for colony formation, the surviving fraction is increased several-fold over cells diluted and plated immediately after irradiation. Similarly, the survival of cells plated immediately following the second of two equivalent doses separated by several hours is greater than the survival of cells plated immediately following a single dose equal to the sum of the split doses. Both processes exhibit similar biphasic repair kinetics and reach maximal levels by 6 h. The phenomena appear initially to be analogous to confluent-holding and split-dose recovery as described for mammalian cells. However, the survival levels obtained for doses of 61-306 Gy after allowing for these recovery processes to occur are quite high and greatly exceed survival levels for all but relatively low doses less than 50 Gy. For example, while the survival of cells irradiated with 150 Gy is near 0.15, the survival of cells receiving 306 Gy in two equivalent split doses is approximately 0.77. Even if damage induced by the first of the split doses was completely repaired, it might be expected that the survival would be near the level of the second dose alone, or near 0.15. Instead the survival is approximately five times greater, suggesting that the first split dose stimulated a repair system not present in unirradiated cells. The situation for confluent-holding recovery is similar to that for split-dose recovery.

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