Radiation-induced acute myeloid leukemia (rAML) in C3H mice is commonly developed through inactivation of PU.1 transcription factor encoded in Sfpi1 on chromosome 2. PU.1 inactivation involves two steps: hemizygous deletion of the Sfpi1 gene (DSG) and point mutation of the allele Sfpi1 gene (PMASG). In this study, we investigated the dose-rate dependence of the frequency of both DSG and PMASG in hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) of C3H mice that received a total of 3 Gy gamma-ray exposure at dose rates of 20 mGy/day, 200 mGy/day or 1,000 mGy/min. All mice were followed for 250 days from start of irradiation. Fluorescent in situ hybridization of the Sfpi1 gene site indicated that frequency of HSCs with DSG was proportional to dose rate. In cell surface profiles, PU.1-inactivated HSCs by both DSG and PMASG were still positive for PU.1, but negative for GM-CSF receptor-α (GMCSFRα), which is transcriptionally regulated by PU.1. Immunofluorescent staining analysis of both PU.1 and GM-CSFRα also showed dose-rate-dependent levels of PU.1-inactivated HSCs. This study provides evidence that both DSG and PMASG are dose-rate dependent; these experimental data offer new insights into the dose-rate effects in HSCs that can lead to radiation-induced leukemogenesis.

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