Measurement of the radiation sensitivity of chromosomes was used to address the influence of cell cycle distribution and of DNA content and ploidy on radiation responses in seven human squamous cell carcinoma cell lines. The cell lines varied about twofold in DNA content and chromosome number, and the X-ray sensitivities (D0) of the lines ranged from 1.1 to 2.7 Gy. The more resistant cell lines (<latex>$D_{0}>1.8\ {\rm Gy}$</latex>) had faster growth rates and larger proportions of cells in S phase in asynchronous cultures. Aberration frequencies were measured in cells irradiated in G1 and G2 phase. The more resistant lines had fewer induced aberrations in both phases than did sensitive lines, implying that they were more resistant to radiation in both of these cell cycle phases. Therefore, while the larger S-phase population seen in the resistant cell lines probably contributes to the resistant phenotype, it cannot explain all of the intrinsic differences in radiation sensitivity. There was no relationship between DNA content and radiation sensitivity as measured by the cell survival assay or the induction of chromosome aberrations, although cells with larger DNA contents tended to have more chromosome damage per cell at equitoxic doses.

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