Previous work showed that intracellular pH ( pH i) and not extracellular pH ( pH e) was the determinant in the low pH sensitization of hyperthermic killing. The present studies show that the same is true for heat-induced radiosensitization and loss of cellular DNA polymerase activities. Chinese hamster ovary cells after they had adapted to low pH (6.7) had an increase in pH i which rendered cells partially resistant to the low pH sensitization of heat-induced cell killing, radiosensitization, and loss of cellular DNA polymerase activities. These results were quantified by plotting versus pH e, both the thermal enhancement ratio (TER), defined as the ratio of the X-ray dose without heat to the X-ray dose with heat to give an isosurvival value of 0.01, and the thermal enhancement factor (TEF), defined as the ratio of the D0 of the radiation survival curve to the D0 of the radiation survival curve for heat plus radiation. Both the TER and TEF were higher for the unadapted cells than for the adapted cells, i.e., 1.3-1.4 fold higher at a pH e of 6.3. However, the TER or TEF plotted versus pH i was identical for the two cell types. Finally, heat-induced loss of cellular DNA polymerase activities correlated with pH i and not pH e. Therefore, we conclude that pH i and not pH e is responsible for the increase by acid in heat-induced radiosensitization and loss of cellular DNA polymerase activities.

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