We present a comprehensive comparative analysis on the repair of radiation-induced DNA damage ex vivo in 15 strains of mice, including 5 inbred reference strains and 10 collaborative-cross strains, of both sexes, totaling 5 million skin fibroblast cells imaged by three-dimensional highthroughput conventional microscopy. Non-immortalized primary skin fibroblasts derived from 76 mice were subjected to increasing doses of both low- and high-LET radiation (X rays; 350 MeV/n 40Ar; 600 MeV/n 56Fe), which are relevant to carcinogenesis and human space exploration. Automated image quantification of 53BP1 radiation-induced foci (RIF) formation and repair during the first 4–48 h postirradiation was performed as a function of dose and LET. Since multiple DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) are induced in a dose- and LET-dependent manner, our data suggest that when DSBs are formed within the same discrete nuclear region, referred to as the “repair domain”, novel mathematical formalisms used to report RIF allowed us to conclude that multiple DSBs can be present in single RIF. Specifically, we observed that the number of RIF per Gy was lower for higher X-ray doses or higher LET particles (i.e., 600 MeV/n 56Fe), suggesting there are more DSBs per RIF when the local absorbed dose increases in the nucleus. The data also clearly show that with more DSBs per RIF, it becomes more difficult for cells to fully resolve RIF. All 15 strains showed the same dose and LET dependence, but strain differences were preserved under various experimental conditions, indicating that the number and sizes of repair domains are modulated by the genetic background of each strain.

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