Induction and repair of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) was measured using a pulsed-field gel electrophoresis system. A cell line of methotrexate-resistant EMT-6 cells that contain numerous double-minutes (DMs) 3 million base pairs in size was employed. The electrophoretic mobility of these DMs depends on whether they have zero, one, or more than one DSB. With no DSBs the DMs remain as circles and are trapped in the origin of electrophoresis, but with one DSB the DMs migrate as a discrete band and can be detected easily through hybridization with a gene-specific probe. Using a clamped homogeneous electrical field apparatus, the induction of DSBs in the 1.5 to 12 Gy X-ray dose range is studied and is shown to be linear. Double-strand break repair following 7.5 Gy is studied, and is shown to be exponential. The kinetics of both induction and repair of DSBs induced in DM DNA was compared to the induction and repair of DSBs in chromosomal DNA and is shown to be similar. The kinetics of repair of DSBs following 7.5 Gy for cells embedded in agarose and cells in suspension is shown to be similar.

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