Recently reported studies have led to a heightened awareness of the risks of cancer induced by diagnostic radiological imaging, and in particular, the risk of brain cancer after childhood CT scans. One feature of Ptch1+/– mice is their sensitivity to radiation-induced medulloblastomas (an embryonic cerebellar tumor) during a narrow window of time centered on the days around birth. Little is known about the dynamics of how dose protraction interacts with such narrow windows of sensitivity in individual tissues. Using medulloblastomas from irradiated Ptch1+/– mice with a hybrid C3H × C57BL/6 F1 genetic background, we previously showed that the alleles retained on chromosome 13 (which harbors the Ptch1 gene) reveal two major mechanisms of loss of the wild-type allele. The loss of parental alleles from the telomere extending up to or past the Ptch1 locus by recombination (spontaneous type) accounts for almost all medulloblastomas in nonirradiated mice, while tumors in irradiated mice often exhibited interstitial deletions, which start downstream of the wild-type Ptch1 and extend up varying lengths towards the centromere (radiation type). In this study, Ptch1+/– mice were exposed to an acute dose of either 100 or 500 mGy gamma rays in utero or postnatally, or the same radiation doses protracted over a four-day period, and were monitored for medulloblastoma development. The results showed dose- and age-dependent radiation-induced type tumors. Furthermore, the size of the radiation-induced deletion differed with the dose rate. The results of this work suggest that tumor latency may be related to the size of the deletion. In this study, 500 mGy exposure produced radiation-induced type tumors at all ages and dose rates, while 100 mGy exposure did not significantly produce radiation-induced type tumors. The radiation signature allows for unique mechanistic insight into the action of radiation to induce DNA lesions with known causal relationship to a specific tumor type, particularly for doses and dose rates that are relevant to both diagnostic and accidental radiological exposures.

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