Belyaev, I. Y., Czene, S. and Harms-Ringdahl, M. Changes in Chromatin Conformation during Radiation-Induced Apoptosis in Human Lymphocytes. Radiat. Res. 156, 355–364 (2001).
Human peripheral lymphocytes in G0 phase were irradiated with 1–5 Gy of γ rays. The biochemical and morphological changes characteristic of apoptosis were examined for 72 h after irradiation. In parallel, changes in chromatin conformation were studied by the method of anomalous viscosity time dependence (AVTD) and by measurements of nuclear halo size. An immediate and dose-dependent relaxation of chromatin, which became saturated at doses above 2–3 Gy, was revealed by the AVTD method. The state of relaxed chromatin lasted up to 12–24 h after irradiation, a response considerably longer than the time attributable to repair of radiation-induced DNA breaks. Measurements of nuclear halo size also indicated the initial relaxation of chromatin in the irradiated cells and its subsequent condensation. This condensation of chromatin as revealed with AVTD correlated well with nuclear condensation, as measured with dual fluorescence staining, and with DNA fragmentation, as measured by conventional and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). Late apoptotic cells did not contribute significantly to the AVTD signal, showing that the chromatin of these cells was completely condensed and fragmented.