Elmroth, K. and Stenerlöw, B. DNA-Incorporated 125I Induces more than one Double-Strand Break per Decay in Mammalian Cells. Radiat. Res. 163, 369–373 (2005).
The Auger-electron emitter 125I releases cascades of 20 electrons per decay that deposit a great amount of local energy, and for DNA-incorporated 125I, approximately one DNA double-strand break (DSB) is produced close to the decay site. To investigate the potential of 125I to induce additional DSBs within adjacent chromatin structures in mammalian cells, we applied DNA fragment-size analysis based on pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) of hamster V79-379A cells exposed to DNA-incorporated 125IdU. After accumulation of decays at −70°C in the presence of 10% DMSO, there was a non-random distribution of DNA fragments with an excess of fragments <0.5 Mbp and the measured yield was 1.6 DSBs/decay. However, since these experiments were performed under high scavenging conditions (DMSO) that reduce indirect effects, the yield in cells exposed to 125IdU under physiological conditions would most likely be even higher. In contrast, using a conventional low-resolution assay without measurement of smaller DNA fragments, the yield was close to one DSB/decay. We conclude that a large fraction of the DSBs induced by DNA-incorporated 125I are nonrandomly distributed and that significantly more than one DSB/decay is induced in an intact cell. Thus, in addition to DSBs produced close to the decay site, DSBs may also be induced within neighboring chromatin fibers, releasing smaller DNA fragments that are not detected by conventional DSB assays.