Fluorescence in situ hybridization using simultaneously a combination of DNA probes for the telomeric hexamer repeat (TTAGGG) and the centromerically repeated murine γ-satellite DNA was applied to analyze the nature of radiation-induced micronuclei in mouse NIH 3T3 fibroblasts. After subtraction of spontaneously occurring micronuclei independent from the dose and time after irradiation, approximately 22% of the radiation-induced micronuclei did not reveal any hybridization signal. Approximately 17% showed one centromeric hybridization signal and about four telomeric signals, suggesting their origin from whole chromosomes. Almost 60% of radiation-induced micronuclei had telomeric signals only, suggesting their origin from acentric fragments. A fraction of micronuclei were found to contain two or more acentric fragments. Micronuclei derived from whole chromosomes or from multiple acentric fragments might, together with DNA synthesis in micronuclei, explain the occurrence of radiation-induced micronuclei with DNA contents greater than the largest chromosome arm.

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