DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) are 2.9 times more frequently induced in yeast cells exposed to sparsely ionizing 30-MeV electrons under oxic compared to anoxic conditions. The rejoining of DSBs induced under anoxic conditions was investigated under conditions allowing repair of potentially lethal damage and compared to the rejoining of DSBs induced in oxic cells. In contrast to the biphasic rejoining kinetics of DSBs induced in oxic cells, the rejoining kinetics of DSBs induced in anoxic cells is complicated by the formation of secondary DSBs. These arise during postirradiation incubation of cells, presumably as a consequence of repair processes acting on radiation-induced lesions other than DSBs. These secondary DSBs may at least partially explain the finding that a greater fraction of unrejoinable DSBs is present in cells irradiated under anoxic compared to oxic conditions. As a consequence, the oxygen enhancement ratio of the yield of the remaining DSBs is decreasing in the course of DSB rejoining.

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