Jakob, B., Scholz, M. and Taucher-Scholz, G. Immediate Localized CDKN1A (p21) Radiation Response after Damage Produced by Heavy-Ion Tracks.

Using confocal microscopy on immunofluorescence-stained cells, we have investigated the response of CDKN1A (p21), one of the key proteins involved in the DNA damage response pathway, after irradiation with accelerated lead or chromium ions. Each traversal of an accelerated ion leads to the formation of a single, bright focus of the CDKN1A protein in the nuclei of human fibroblasts within 2 min after irradiation at 4°C. This immediate, localized CDKN1A response is specific for particle irradiation with a high linear energy transfer (LET), whereas X irradiation, after a period of induction, yields a diffusely spread pattern, in line with the differences in the microscopic dose deposition pattern of both radiation types. The particle-induced CDKN1A foci persist for several hours until they become diffuse and vanish. These findings suggest that CDKN1A accumulates at the sites of primary DNA damage, possibly mediated by the interaction with proteins involved in DNA repair. Here, for the first time, an immediate biological response confined to the radial extension of low-energy particle tracks (∼1 μm) is directly visualized and correlated to ion traversals. This indicates that particle irradiation represents an ideal tool to study the processing of biological damage induced in defined subnuclear regions.

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