Cells from patients with ataxia telangiectasia (AT) are abnormal in their response to irradiation as judged by clonogenic survival and accumulation in G2 phase. The relationship of the results of these two assays, however, is still a matter of controversy. Flow cytometry was used to measure the distribution of cells in the phases of the cell cycle after 2 Gy irradiation in Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-transformed lymphoblastoid cell lines (LCLs) and SV40-transformed fibroblasts. AT cells showed increased and prolonged accumulation in G2/ M phase regardless of the cell type (lymphoblastoid or fibroblast) or complementation group (A, C or D). To test the hypothesis that prolonged accumulation of AT cells in G2 phase after irradiation was not simply a reflection of their radiosensitivity, we gave iso-survival radiation doses to SV40-transformed fibroblasts of two AT and one control cell lines. The two AT cell lines exited from the${\rm G}_{2}/{\rm M}\text{-phase}$ block more slowly than control cells after each dose tested. This implies that prolonged accumulation in G2/ M phase in AT cells is not directly related to radiosensitivity as measured by clonogenic survival, but that factors involved in the exit from G2 phase after irradiation may be abnormally regulated. We found that G2-phase arrest of AT cells did not necessarily result in a fatal consequence in the first cell cycle after irradiation. Furthermore, G2-phase arrest did not lead to detectable DNA fragmentation characteristic of apoptosis as judged by gel electrophoresis.

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