Kinashi, Y., Sakurai, Y., Masunaga, S., Suzuki, M., Takagaki, M., Akaboshi, M. and Ono, K. Molecular Structural Analysis of HPRT Mutations Induced by Thermal and Epithermal Neutrons in Chinese Hamster Ovary Cells.

Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells were exposed to thermal and epithermal neutrons, and the occurrence of mutations at the HPRT locus was investigated. The Kyoto University Research Reactor (KUR), which has been improved for use in neutron capture therapy, was the neutron source. Neutron energy spectra ranging from nearly pure thermal to epithermal can be chosen using the spectrum shifters and thermal neutron filters. To determine mutant frequency and cell survival, cells were irradiated with thermal and epithermal neutrons under three conditions: thermal neutron mode, mixed mode with thermal and epithermal neutrons, and epithermal neutron mode. The mutagenicity was different among the three irradiation modes, with the epithermal neutrons showing a mutation frequency about 5-fold that of the thermal neutrons and about 1.5-fold that of the mixed mode. In the thermal neutron and mixed mode, boron did not significantly increase the frequency of the mutants at the same dose. Therefore, the effect of boron as used in boron neutron capture therapy (BNCT) is quantitatively minimal in terms of mutation induction. Over 300 independent neutron-induced mutant clones were isolated from 12 experiments. The molecular structure of HPRT mutations was determined by analysis of all nine exons by multiplex polymerase chain reaction. In the thermal neutron and mixed modes, total and partial deletions were dominant and the fraction of total deletions was increased in the presence of boron. In the epithermal neutron mode, more than half of the mutations observed were total deletions. Our results suggest that there are clear differences between thermal and epithermal neutron beams in their mutagenicity and in the structural pattern of the mutants that they induce. Mapping of deletion breakpoints of 173 partial-deletion mutants showed that regions of introns 3–4, 7/8–9 and 9–0 are sensitive to the induction of mutants by neutron irradiation.

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