Upon DNA double-strand break (DSB) formation, hundreds of H2AX molecules in the chromatin flanking the break site are phosphorylated on serine residue 139, termed gamma-H2AX, so that virtually every DSB site in a nucleus can be visualised within 10 min of its formation using an antibody to gamma-H2AX. One application of this sensitive assay is to examine the induction of DNA double-strand damage in subtle non-targeted cellular effects such as the bystander effect. Here whether microRNA (miRNA) serve as a primary signalling mechanism for bystander effect propagation by comparing matched human colon carcinoma cell lines with wild-type or depleted levels of mature miRNAs was investigated. No major differences were found in the levels of induced gamma-H2AX foci in the tested cell lines, indicating that though miRNAs play a role in bystander effect manifestation, they appear not to be the primary bystander signalling molecules in the formation of bystander effect-induced DSBs.
DNA damage that leads to formation of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) induces phosphorylation of histone H2AX on Ser-139 at sites flanking the breakage. Immunocytochemical detection of phosphorylated H2AX (denoted as γH2AX) thus provides a marker of DSBs. The method presented in this chapter describes the detection of γH2AX for revealing the presence of DSBs, combined with differential staining of cellular DNA for revealing the cell cycle phase. The detection of γH2AX is based on indirect immunofluorescence using secondary antibody tagged with fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC) while DNA is counterstained with propidium iodide (PI). Intensity of cellular green (FITC) and red (PI) fluorescence is measured by flow cytometry and bivariate analysis of the data is used to correlate the presence of DSBs with the cell cycle phase.
Antitumor drugs; cell cycle phase; DNA damage; double-strand DNA breaks; flow cytometry; histone H2AX phosphorylation; immunofluorescence; ionizing radiation
Double-strand breaks (DSBs) are highly deleterious DNA lesions as they lead to chromosome aberrations and/or apoptosis. The formation of nuclear DSBs triggers phosphorylation of histone H2AX on Ser-139 (defined as γH2AX), which participates in the repair of such DNA damage. Our aim was to compare the induction of γH2AX in relation to DSBs induced by topoisomerase II (TOPO II) poisons, etoposide (ETOP) and mitoxantrone (MXT), in V79 cells. DSBs were measured by the neutral comet assay, while γH2AX was quantified using immunocytochemistry and flow cytometry. Stabilized cleavage complexes (SCCs), lesions thought to be responsible for TOPO II poison-induced genotoxicity, were measured using a complex of enzyme–DNA assay. In the case of ETOP, a no observed adverse effect level (NOAEL) and lowest observed effect level (LOEL) for genotoxicity was determined; γH2AX levels paralleled DSBs at all concentrations but significant DNA damage was not detected below 0.5 μg/ml. Furthermore, DNA damage was dependent on the formation of SCCs. In contrast, at low MXT concentrations (0.0001–0.001 μg/ml), induction of γH2AX was not accompanied by increases in DSBs. Rather, DSBs were only significantly increased when SCCs were detected. These findings suggest MXT-induced genotoxicity occurred via at least two mechanisms, possibly related to DNA intercalation and/or redox cycling as well as TOPO II inhibition. Our findings also indicate that γH2AX can be induced by DNA lesions other than DSBs. In conclusion, γH2AX, when measured using immunocytochemical and flow cytometric methods, is a sensitive indicator of DNA damage and may be a useful tool in genetic toxicology screens. ETOP data are consistent with the threshold concept for TOPO II poison-induced genotoxicity and this should be considered in the safety assessment of chemicals displaying an affinity for TOPO II and genotoxic/clastogenic effects.
DNA double-strand breaks; Topoisomerase II; Etoposide; Mitoxantrone; Neutral comet assay; γH2AX; Genotoxicity thresholds
The objective of this study was to determine the molecular mechanisms responsible for cellular radiosensitivity in two human fibroblast cell lines 84BR and 175BR derived from two cancer patients.
Clonogenic assays were performed following exposure to increasing doses of gamma radiation to confirm radiosensitivity. γ-H2AX foci assays were used to determine the efficiency of DNA double-strand break (DSB) repair in cells. Quantitative PCR (Q-PCR) established the expression levels of key DNA DSB repair genes. Imaging flow cytometry using annexin V-FITC was used to compare artemis expression and apoptosis in cells.
Clonogenic cellular hypersensitivity in the 84BR and 175BR cell lines was associated with a defect in DNA DSB repair measured by the γ-H2AX foci assay. The Q-PCR analysis and imaging flow cytometry revealed a two-fold overexpression of the artemis DNA repair gene, which was associated with an increased level of apoptosis in the cells before and after radiation exposure. Overexpression of normal artemis protein in a normal immortalised fibroblast cell line NB1-Tert resulted in increased radiosensitivity and apoptosis.
We conclude that elevated expression of artemis is associated with higher levels of DNA DSB, radiosensitivity and elevated apoptosis in two radio-hypersensitive cell lines. These data reveal a potentially novel mechanism responsible for radiosensitivity and show that increased artemis expression in cells can result in either radiation resistance or enhanced sensitivity.
cellular radiosensitivity; defective DNA repair; artemis overexpression
DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) are extremely dangerous lesions with severe consequences for cell survival and the maintenance of genomic stability. In higher eukaryotic cells, DSBs in chromatin promptly initiate the phosphorylation of the histone H2A variant, H2AX, at Serine 139 to generate γ-H2AX. This phosphorylation event requires the activation of the phosphatidylinositol-3-OH-kinase-like family of protein kinases, DNA-PKcs, ATM, and ATR, and serves as a landing pad for the accumulation and retention of the central components of the signaling cascade initiated by DNA damage. Regions in chromatin with γ-H2AX are conveniently detected by immunofluorescence microscopy and serve as beacons of DSBs. This has allowed the development of an assay that has proved particularly useful in the molecular analysis of the processing of DSBs. Here, we first review the role of γ-H2AX in DNA damage response in the context of chromatin and discuss subsequently the use of this modification as a surrogate marker for mechanistic studies of DSB induction and processing. We conclude with a critical analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the approach and present some interesting applications of the resulting methodology.
DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) are the most deleterious lesion inflicted by ionizing radiation. Although DSBs are potentially carcinogenic, it is not clear whether complex DSBs that are refractory to repair are more potently tumorigenic compared with simple breaks that can be rapidly repaired, correctly or incorrectly, by mammalian cells. We previously demonstrated that complex DSBs induced by high-linear energy transfer (LET) Fe ions are repaired slowly and incompletely, whereas those induced by low-LET gamma rays are repaired efficiently by mammalian cells. To determine whether Fe-induced DSBs are more potently tumorigenic than gamma ray-induced breaks, we irradiated ‘sensitized’ murine astrocytes that were deficient in Ink4a and Arf tumor suppressors and injected the surviving cells subcutaneously into nude mice. Using this model system, we find that Fe ions are potently tumorigenic, generating tumors with significantly higher frequency and shorter latency compared with tumors generated by gamma rays. Tumor formation by Fe-irradiated cells is accompanied by rampant genomic instability and multiple genomic changes, the most interesting of which is loss of the p15/Ink4b tumor suppressor due to deletion of a chromosomal region harboring the CDKN2A and CDKN2B loci. The additional loss of p15/Ink4b in tumors derived from cells that are already deficient in p16/Ink4a bolsters the hypothesis that p15 plays an important role in tumor suppression, especially in the absence of p16. Indeed, we find that reexpression of p15 in tumor-derived cells significantly attenuates the tumorigenic potential of these cells, indicating that p15 loss may be a critical event in tumorigenesis triggered by complex DSBs.
In cells exposed to low linear energy transfer (LET) ionizing-radiation (IR),
double-strand-breaks (DSBs) form within clustered-damage-sites (CDSs) from
lesions disrupting the DNA sugar-phosphate backbone. It is commonly assumed that
all DSBs form promptly and are immediately detected by the cellular
DNA-damage-response (DDR) apparatus. However, there is evidence that the pool of
DSBs detected by physical methods, such as pulsed-field gel electrophoresis
(PFGE), comprises not only promptly forming DSBs (prDSBs) but also DSBs
developing during lysis at high temperatures from thermally-labile sugar-lesions
(TLSLs). We recently demonstrated that conversion of TLSLs to DNA breaks and
ultimately to DSBs also occurs in cells during the first hour of
post-irradiation incubation at physiological temperatures. Thus, TLSL-dependent
DSBs (tlDSBs) are not an avoidable technique-related artifact, but a reality the
cell always faces. The biological consequences of tlDSBs and the dependence of
their formation on LET require in-depth investigation. Heavy-ions (HI) are a
promising high-LET radiation modality used in cancer treatment. HI are also
encountered in space and generate serious radiation protection problems to
prolonged space missions. Here, we study, therefore, the effect of HI on the
yields of tlDSBs and prDSBs. We report a reduction in the yield of tlDBSs
stronger than that earlier reported for neutrons, and with pronounced cell line
dependence. We conclude that with increasing LET the complexity of CDSs
increases resulting in a commensurate increase in the yield prDSBs and a
decrease in tlDSBs. The consequences of these effects to the relative biological
effectiveness are discussed.
DNA double strand breaks (DSB); Ionizing radiation (IR); High LET; Heavy ions; Labile lesions; Radiation chemistry
The measurement of γ-H2AX foci induction in cells provides a sensitive and reliable method for the quantitation of DNA damage responses in a variety of cell types. Accurate and rapid methods to conduct such observations are desirable. In this study, we have employed the novel technique of multispectral imaging flow cytometry to compare the induction and repair of γ-H2AX foci in three human cell types with different capacities for the repair of DNA double strand breaks (DSB). A repair normal fibroblast cell line MRC5-SV1, a DSB repair defective ataxia telangiectasia (AT5BIVA) cell line, and a DNA-PKcs deficient cell line XP14BRneo17 were exposed to 2 Gy gamma radiation from a 60Cobalt source. Thirty minutes following exposure, we observed a dramatic induction of foci in the nuclei of these cells. After 24 hrs, there was a predictable reduction on the number of foci in the MRC5-SV1 cells, consistent with the repair of DNA DSB. In the AT5BIVA cells, persistence of the foci over a 24-hr period was due to the failure in the repair of DNA DSB. However, in the DNA-PKcs defective cells (XP14BRneo17), we observed an intermediate retention of foci in the nuclei indicative of partial repair of DNA DSB. In summary, the application of imaging flow cytometry has permitted an evaluation of foci in a large number of cells (20,000) for each cell line at each time point. This provides a novel method to determine differences in repair kinetics between different cell types. We propose that imaging flow cytometry provides an alternative platform for accurate automated high through-put analysis of foci induction in a variety of cell types. © 2011 International Society for Advancement of Cytometry
imaging flow cytometry; DNA double strand break repair; γ-H2AX foci; ionising radiation
Carbon ions (12C6+) are high linear energy transfer (LET) radiation characterized by higher relative biological effectiveness than low LET radiation. The assessment of tumour radiosensitivity would be particularly useful in optimizing the radiation dose during radiotherapy. The aim of the current study was to evaluate the potential value of the neutral comet assay and γH2AX foci assay in assessing 12C6+ radiosensitivity of tumour cells.
Materials and methods
The doses of 12C6+ and X-rays used in the present study were 2 and 4 Gy. The survival fraction, DNA double-strand breaks (DSB) and repair kinetics of DSB were assayed with clonogenic survival, neutral comet assay and γH2AX foci assay in human cervical carcinoma HeLa cells, hepatoma HepG2 cells, and mucoepidermoid carcinoma MEC-1 cells at the time points of 0.5, 4, 16 and 24 h after 12C6+ and X-rays irradiation.
The survival fraction for 12C6+ irradiation was much more inhibited than for X-rays (p < 0.05) in all three tumour cell lines tested. Substantial amounts of residual damage, assessed by the neutral comet assay, were present after irradiation (p < 0.05). The highest residual damage was observed at 0.5 or 4 h, both for 12C6+ and X-ray irradiation. However, the residual damage in HeLa and MEC-1 cells was higher for 12C6+ than X-rays (p < 0.05). The strongest induction of γH2AX foci was observed after 30 min, for all three tumour cell lines (p < 0.01). The franction of γH2AX foci persisted for at least 24 h after 12C6+ irradiation; in HeLa cells and MEC-1 was higher than after X-ray irradiation (p < 0.05). The correlation coefficients between the clonogenic survival, neutral comet assay and γH2AX foci assay were not statistically significant, except for some tumour cells at individual irradiation doses and types.
Our study demonstrated that the neutral comet assay and γ-H2AX foci assay could be used to assess the radiosensitivity of 12C6+ in human tumour cells.
human tumour cells; carbon ions; X-rays; radiation sensitivity; DNA double strand breaks; γH2AX
Cells that sustain double strand DNA breaks (DSBs) can develop genomic instability, which contributes to carcinogenesis, and agents that cause DSBs are considered potential carcinogens. We looked for evidence of acid-induced DNA damage, including DSBs, in benign Barrett’s epithelial (BAR-T) cell lines in vitro and in patients with Barrett’s esophagus in vivo. In BAR-T cells, we also explored the mechanisms underlying acid-induced DNA damage. We exposed BAR-T cells to acid in the presence of a fluorescent probe for reactive oxygen species (ROS), and in the presence or absence of DIDS (which prevents intracellular acidification) and NAC (a scavenger of ROS). DSBs were detected by Western blotting and immunofluorescence for histone H2AX phosphorylation, and by Comet assay. During endoscopy in patients with Barrett’s esophagus, we took biopsy specimens from the metaplastic mucosa before and after esophageal perfusion with 0.1N HCl for 3 minutes, and we sought DSBs by Western blotting for histone H2AX phosphorylation. In BAR-T cells, acid exposure resulted in ROS production and caused a time-dependent increase in levels of phospho-H2AX that continued for at least 48 hours. Pre-treatment with DIDS or NAC prevented the acid-induced increase in phospho-H2AX levels. DSBs also were detected in biopsy specimens of Barrett’s metaplasia following esophageal acid perfusion in all of 6 patients with Barrett’s esophagus. Acid exposure causes DSBs in Barrett’s epithelial cells through ROS produced as a consequence of intracellular acidification. These findings suggest that acid can be considered a carcinogen in Barrett’s esophagus.
Barrett’s esophagus; gastroesophageal reflux; DNA damage; reactive oxygen species; double strand breaks
Antibiotics like fluoroquinolones (FQs) that target bacterial type II topoisomerases pose a potential genotoxic risk due to interactions with mammalian topoisomerase II (TOPO II) counterparts. Inhibition of TOPO II can lead to the generation of clastogenic DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) that can in turn manifest in mutagenesis. Thus, methods that allow early identification of drugs that present the greatest hazard are warranted. A rapid, medium-throughput and predictive genotoxicity screen that can be applied to bacterial type II topoisomerase inhibitors is described herein. Maximal induction of the DSB biomarker serine139-phosphorylated histone H2AX (γH2AX) in L5178Y cells was quantified via flow cytometry and correlated with data derived from the mouse lymphoma screen (MLS), a default assay used to rank genotoxic potential. When applied to a class of novel bacterial type II topoisomerase inhibitors (NBTIs) in lead-optimisation, maximal γH2AX induction >1.4-fold (relative to controls) identified 22/27 NBTIs that induced >6-fold relative mutation frequency (MF) in MLS. Moreover, response signatures comprising of γH2AX induction and G2M cell cycle arrest elucidated using this approach suggested that these NBTIs, primarily of the H class, operated via a TOPO II poison-like mechanism of action (MoA) similar to FQs. NBTIs that induced ≤6-fold relative MF, which were mainly A class-derived, had less impact on γH2AX (≤1.4-fold) and also evoked G1 arrest, indicating that their cytotoxic effects were likely mediated through a non-poison MoA. Concordance between assays was 86% (54/63) when 1.4- and 6-fold ‘cut offs’ were applied. These findings were corroborated through inspection of human TOPO IIα IC50 data as NBTIs exhibiting equivalent inhibitory capacities had differing genotoxic potencies. Deployed in an early screening capacity, the γH2AX by flow assay coupled with structure–activity relationship evaluation can provide insight into MoA and impact medicinal chemistry efforts, ultimately leading to the production of inherently safer molecules.
Different radiation-techniques in treating local staged prostate cancer differ in their dose- distribution. Physical phantom measurements indicate that for 3D, less healthy tissue is exposed to a relatively higher dose compared to SSIMRT. The purpose is to substantiate a dose distribution in lymphocytes in-vivo and to discuss the possibility of comparing it to the physical model of total body dose distribution.
For each technique (3D and SSIMRT), blood was taken from 20 patients before and 10 min after their first fraction of radiotherapy. The isolated leukocytes were fixed 2 hours after radiation. DNA double-strand breaks (DSB) in lymphocytes' nuclei were stained immunocytochemically using the gamma-H2AX protein. Gamma-H2AX foci inside each nucleus were counted in 300 irradiated as well as 50 non-irradiated lymphocytes per patient. In addition, lymphocytes of 5 volunteer subjects were irradiated externally at different doses and processed under same conditions as the patients' lymphocytes in order to generate a calibration-line. This calibration-line assigns dose-value to mean number of gamma-H2AX foci/ nucleus. So the dose distributions in patients' lymphocytes were determined regarding to the gamma-H2AX foci distribution. With this information a cumulative dose-lymphocyte-histogram (DLH) was generated. Visualized distribution of gamma-H2AX foci, correspondingly dose per nucleus, was compared to the technical dose-volume-histogram (DVH), related to the whole body-volume.
Measured in-vivo (DLH) and according to the physical treatment-planning (DVH), more lymphocytes resulted with low-dose exposure (< 20% of the applied dose) and significantly fewer lymphocytes with middle-dose exposure (30%-60%) during Step-and-Shoot-IMRT, compared to conventional 3D conformal radiotherapy. The high-dose exposure (> 80%) was equal in both radiation techniques. The mean number of gamma-H2AX foci per lymphocyte was 0.49 (3D) and 0.47 (SSIMRT) without significant difference.
In-vivo measurement of the dose distribution within patients' lymphocytes can be performed by detecting gamma-H2AX foci. In case of 3D and SSIMRT, the results of this method correlate with the physical calculated total body dose-distribution, but cannot be interpreted unrestrictedly due to the blood circulation. One possible application of the present method could be in radiation-protection for in-vivo dose estimation after accidental exposure to radiation.
The single-cell gel electrophoresis (comet) assay was used to measure radiation-produced DNA double-strand breaks (dsbs) in a series of seven cervical tumour cell lines (ME180, HT3, C33A, C41, SiHa, MS751 and CaSki). The proportion of DNA dsbs was measured immediately after radiation treatment (initial damage) and 16 h later after incubation at 37 degrees C (residual damage). Linear dose-response curves were seen for initial (slopes 0.23-0.66) and residual (slopes 0.16-0.87) DNA dsbs. Neither of the slopes of the linear regression analysis on the initial and on the residual DNA dsbs dose-response curves (range 0-80 Gy) correlated with SF2 (surviving fraction at 2 Gy) measured after high- (HDR) or low-dose-rate (LDR) irradiation. An association was evident between SF2 after HDR and LDR irradiation and the ratio of the absolute level of initial and residual damage after a single dose of 60 Gy. However, a significant correlation was found between HDR (r= -0.78, P = 0.04) and LDR (r = -0.86, P = 0.03) SF2 values and the ratio of the slopes of the initial and residual DNA dsbs dose-response curves (range 0.47-0.99), representing the fraction of DNA damage remaining. These results indicate that the neutral comet assay can be used to predict radiosensitivity of cervical tumour cell lines by assessing the ratio of initial and residual DNA dsbs.
Key steps crucial to the process of tumor progression are genomic instability and escape from apoptosis. Nitric oxide and its interrelated reactive intermediates (collectively denoted as NOX) have been implicated in DNA damage and mutational events leading to cancer development, while also being implicated in the inhibition of apoptosis through S-nitrosation of key apoptotic enzymes. The purpose of this study was to explore the interrelationship between NOX-mediated DNA strand breaks (DSBs) and apoptosis in cultured tumor cell lines.
Two well-characterized cell lines were exposed to increasing concentrations of exogenous NOX via donor compounds. Production of NOX was quantified by the Greiss reaction and spectrophotometery, and confirmed by nitrotyrosine immunostaining. DSBs were measured by the alkaline single-cell gel electrophoresis assay (the COMET assay), and correlated with cell viability by the MTT assay. Apoptosis was analyzed both by TUNEL staining and Annexin V/propidium iodine FACS. Finally, caspase enzymatic activity was measured using an in-vitro fluorogenic caspase assay.
Increases in DNA strand breaks in our tumor cells, but not in control fibroblasts, correlated with the concentration as well as rate of release of exogenously administered NOX. This increase in DSBs did not correlate with an increase in cell death or apoptosis in our tumor cell line. Finally, this lack of apoptosis was found to correlate with inhibition of caspase activity upon exposure to thiol- but not NONOate-based NOX donor compounds.
Genotoxicity appears to be highly interrelated with both the concentration and kinetic delivery of NOX. Moreover, alterations in cell apoptosis can be seen as a consequence of the explicit mechanisms of NOX delivery. These findings lend credence to the hypothesis that NOX may play an important role in tumor progression, and underscores potential pitfalls which should be considered when developing NOX-based chemotherapeutic agents.
Nitric Oxide; DNA Strand Breaks
Reviewed are the methods aimed to detect DNA damage in individual cells, estimate its extent and relate it to cell cycle phase and induction of apoptosis. They include the assays that reveal DNA fragmentation during apoptosis, as well as DNA damage induced by genotoxic agents. DNA fragmentation that occurs in the course of apoptosis is detected by selective extraction of degraded DNA. DNA in chromatin of apoptotic cells shows also increased propensity to undergo denaturation. The most common assay of DNA fragmentation relies on labelling DNA strand breaks with fluorochrome-tagged deoxy-nucleotides. The induction of double-strand DNA breaks (DSBs) by genotoxic agents provides a signal for histone H2AX phosphorylation on Ser139; the phosphorylated H2AX is named γH2AX. Also, ATM-kinase is activated through its autophosphorylation on Ser1981. Immunocytochemical detection of γH2AX and/or ATM-Ser1981(P) are sensitive probes to reveal induction of DSBs. When used concurrently with analysis of cellular DNA content and caspase-3 activation, they allow one to correlate the extent of DNA damage with the cell cycle phase and with activation of the apoptotic pathway. The presented data reveal cell cycle phase-specific patterns of H2AX phosphorylation and ATM autophosphorylation in response to induction of DSBs by ionizing radiation, topoisomerase I and II inhibitors and carcinogens. Detection of DNA damage in tumour cells during radio-or chemotherapy may provide an early marker predictive of response to treatment.
The signature DNA lesion induced by ionizing radiation is clustered DNA damage. Gamma radiation-induced clustered DNA damage containing base lesions was investigated in plasmid DNA under cell mimetic conditions and in two cell lines, V79-4 (hamster) and HF19 (human), using bacterial endonucleases Nth (endonuclease III) and Fpg (formamidopyrimidine DNA glycosylase). Following irradiation with 60Co γ-rays, induction of double-strand breaks (DSB) and clustered DNA damage, revealed as DSB by the proteins, was determined in plasmid using the plasmid-nicking assay and in cells by either conventional pulsed field gel electrophoresis or a hybridization assay, in which a 3 Mb restriction fragment of the X chromosome is used as a radioactive labeled probe. Enzyme concentrations (30–60 ng/µg DNA) were optimized to minimize visualization of background levels of endogenous DNA damage and DSB produced by non-specific cutting by Fpg and Nth in cellular DNA. 60Co γ- radiation produces a 1.8-fold increase in the yields of both types of enzyme sensitive sites, visualized as DSB compared with that of prompt DSB in plasmid DNA. In mammalian cells, the increase in yields of clustered DNA damage containing either Fpg or Nth sensitive sites compared with that of prompt DSB is 1.4–2.0- and 1.8-fold, respectively. Therefore, clustered DNA damage is induced in cells by sparsely ionizing radiation and their yield is significantly greater than that of prompt DSB.
Phosphorylation of histone H2AX on Ser 139 is a sensitive reporter of DNA damage, particularly if the damage involves induction of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs). Phosphorylated H2AX has been named γH2AX and its presence in the nucleus can be detected immunocytochemically. Multiparameter analysis of γH2AX immunofluorescence by flow or laser-scanning cytometry allows one to measure extent of DNA damage in individual cells and to correlate it with their position in the cell cycle and induction of apoptosis. This chapter presents the protocols and outlines applications of multiparameter cytometry in analysis of H2AX phosphorylation as a reporter of the presence of DSBs.
γH2AX; H2AX phosphorylation; DNA double-strand breaks; Multiparameter flow cytometry; Laser-scanning cytometry; Immunocytochemistry; Apoptosis
A number of methods have been developed to examine the morphologic, biochemical, and molecular changes that happen during the DNA damage response that may ultimately lead to death of cells through various mechanisms that include apoptosis. When cells are exposed to ionizing radiation or chemical DNA-damaging agents, double-stranded DNA breaks (DSB) are generated that rapidly result in the phosphorylation of histone variant H2AX. Because phosphorylation of H2AX at Ser 139 correlates well with each DSB, phospho-H2AX is a sensitive marker to used to examine the DNA damage and its repair. Apoptotic cells are characterized on the basis of their reduced DNA content and morphologic changes, including nuclear condensation, which can be detected by flow cytometry (sub-G1 DNA content), trypan blue, or Hoechst staining. The appearance of phosphatidylserine on the plasma membrane with annexin V–fluorochrome conjugates indicates the changes in plasma membrane composition and function. By combining it with propidium iodide staining, this method can also be used to distinguish early versus late apoptotic or necrotic events. The activation of caspases is another well-known biochemical marker of apoptosis. Finally, the Bcl-2 family of proteins and the mitochondria that play a critical role in DNA damage-induced apoptosis can be examined by translocation of Bax and cytochrome c in and out of mitochondria. In this chapter, we discuss the most commonly used techniques used in our laboratory for determining the DNA damage response leading to apoptosis.
The DNA double-strand break (DSB) damage response induced by high energy charged particles on lung fibroblast cells embedded in a 3-dimensional (3-D) collagen tissue equivalents was investigated using antibodies to the DNA damage response proteins gamma-histone 2AX (γ-H2AX) and phosphorylated DNA-PKcs (p-DNA-PKcs).
Materials and methods
3-D tissue equivalents were irradiated in positions across the linear distribution of the Bragg curve profiles of 307.7 MeV/nucleon, 556.9 MeV/nucleon, or 967.0 MeV/nucleon 56Fe ions at a dose of 0.30 Gy.
Patterns of discrete DNA damage streaks across nuclei or saturated nuclear damage were observed, with saturated nuclear damage being more predominant as samples were positioned closer to the physical Bragg peak. Quantification of the DNA damage signal intensities at each distance for each of the examined energies revealed a biological Bragg curve profile with a pattern of DNA damage intensity similar to the physical Bragg curve for the particular energy. Deconvolution microscopy of nuclei with streaked or saturated nuclear damage pattern revealed more details of the damage, with evidence of double-strand breaks radially distributed from the main particle track as well as multiple discrete tracks within saturated damage nuclei.
These 3-D culture systems can be used as a biological substrate to better understand the interaction of heavy charged particles of different energies with tissue and could serve as a basis to model space-radiation-induced cancer initiation and progression.
heavy ion irradiation; DNA damage; DNA double-strand break repair; 3-D tissue equivalents
Superficial digital flexor tendon (SDFT) injuries of horses usually follow cumulative matrix microdamage; it is not known why the reparative abilities of tendon fibroblasts are overwhelmed or subverted. Relevant in vitro studies of this process require fibroblasts not already responding to stresses caused by the cell culture protocols. We investigated indicators of replicative damage in SDFT fibroblast monolayers, effects of this on their reparative ability, and measures that can be taken to reduce it.
We found significant evidence of replicative stress, initially observing consistently large numbers of binucleate (BN) cells. A more variable but prominent feature was the presence of numerous gammaH2AX (γH2AX) puncta in nuclei, this being a histone protein that is phosphorylated in response to DNA double-stranded breaks (DSBs). Enrichment for injury detection and cell cycle arrest factors (p53 (ser15) and p21) occurred most frequently in BN cells; however, their numbers did not correlate with DNA damage levels and it is likely that the two processes have different causative mechanisms. Such remarkable levels of injury and binucleation are usually associated with irradiation, or treatment with cytoskeletal-disrupting agents.
Both DSBs and BN cells were greatest in subconfluent (replicating) monolayers. The DNA-damaged cells co-expressed the replication markers TPX2/repp86 and centromere protein F. Once damaged in the early stages of culture establishment, fibroblasts continued to express DNA breaks with each replicative cycle. However, significant levels of cell death were not measured, suggesting that DNA repair was occurring. Comet assays showed that DNA repair was delayed in proportion to levels of genotoxic stress.
Researchers using tendon fibroblast monolayers should assess their “health” using γH2AX labelling. Continued use of early passage cultures expressing initially high levels of γH2AX puncta should be avoided for mechanistic studies and ex-vivo therapeutic applications, as this will not be resolved with further replicative cycling. Low density cell culture should be avoided as it enriches for both DNA damage and mitotic defects (polyploidy). As monolayers differing only slightly in baseline DNA damage levels showed markedly variable responses to a further injury, studies of effects of various stressors on tendon cells must be very carefully controlled.
Superficial digital flexor tendon; Tendon; Horses; Cell culture; Polyploidy; DNA damage; DNA repair; Replicative stress; GammaH2AX protein; Comet assay
Repair of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) protects cells and organisms, as well as their genome integrity. Since DSB repair occurs in the context of chromatin, chromatin must be modified to prevent it from inhibiting DSB repair. Evidence supports the role of histone modifications and ATP-dependent chromatin remodeling in repair and signaling of chromosome DSBs. The key questions are, then, what the nature of chromatin altered by DSBs is and how remodeling of chromatin facilitates DSB repair. Here we report a chromatin alteration caused by a single HO endonuclease-generated DSB at the Saccharomyces cerevisiae MAT locus. The break induces rapid nucleosome migration to form histone-free DNA of a few hundred base pairs immediately adjacent to the break. The DSB-induced nucleosome repositioning appears independent of end processing, since it still occurs when the 5′-to-3′ degradation of the DNA end is markedly reduced. The tetracycline-controlled depletion of Sth1, the ATPase of RSC, or deletion of RSC2 severely reduces chromatin remodeling and loading of Mre11 and Yku proteins at the DSB. Depletion of Sth1 also reduces phosphorylation of H2A, processing, and joining of DSBs. We propose that RSC-mediated chromatin remodeling at the DSB prepares chromatin to allow repair machinery to access the break and is vital for efficient DSB repair.
Head and neck cancers (head and neck squamous cell carcinomas [HNSCC]) are a heterogeneous group of neoplasms with varying presenting symptoms, treatment, and expected outcome. There is a need to find an effective way of its treatment at the molecular level. Thus, we should identify the mechanism of cancer cell response to damaging agents' activity, especially at DNA level. Our major goal was to evaluate the efficacy of DNA double strand breaks (DSBs) repair in HTB-43 and SCC-25 cancer cell lines as well as lymphocytes taken from HNSCC patients and healthy donors. The DNA repair efficiency was measured by neutral comet assay as well as extrachromosomal assay for DNA DSBs repair (TAK assay). We determined the levels of two main pathways of DNA DSBs—nonhomologous end joining (NHEJ) and homologous recombination repair (HRR). Neutral comet assay was used for evaluation of DNA DSBs repair after treatment with genotoxic agents. DNA DSBs induced by gamma radiation were repaired slower in lymphocytes from HNSCC patients than in lymphocytes from healthy controls. HTB-43 and SCC-25 cancer cell lines have higher efficacy of NHEJ and HRR than lymphocytes taken from patients as well as control subjects. Our results confirm the necessity of further studies on the mechanisms of DNA DSBs repair to provide insight into the molecular basis of head and neck cancer, which will allow us to improve methods of HNSCC treatment.
Histone H2AX has a role in suppressing genomic instability and cancer. However, the mechanisms by which it performs these functions are poorly understood. After DNA breakage, H2AX is phosphorylated on serine 139 in chromatin near the break. We show here that H2AX serine 139 enforces efficient homologous recombinational repair of a chromosomal double-strand break (DSB) by using the sister chromatid as a template. BRCA1, Rad51, and CHK2 contribute to recombinational repair, in part independently of H2AX. H2AX−/− cells show increased use of single-strand annealing, an error-prone deletional mechanism of DSB repair. Therefore, the chromatin response around a chromosomal DSB, in which H2AX serine 139 phosphorylation plays a central role, “shapes” the repair process in favor of potentially error-free interchromatid homologous recombination at the expense of error-prone repair. H2AX phosphorylation may help set up a favorable disposition between sister chromatids.
The recognition of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) using a phospho-specific antibody to the histone 2A variant has become the gold standard assay for DNA damage detection. Here we report on the development of the first monoclonal antibody to the phospho-specific form of Drosophila H2AV and characterize the specificity of this antibody to programmed DSBs in oocytes and rereplication sites in endocycling cells by immunofluorescence assays and to DSBs resulting from irradiation in both cell culture and whole tissue by Western blot assays. These studies show that the antibody derived in the study is highly specific for this modification that occurs at DSB sites, and therefore will be a new useful tool within the Drosophila community for the study of DNA damage response, DSB repair, meiotic recombination and chemical agents that cause DNA damage.
γ-H2AV; H2AX; double-strand break; DNA repair; meiosis
Exposure of cells to inhibitors of DNA topoisomerase I (topo I) or topoisomerase II (topo II) leads to DNA damage that often involves formation of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs). DNA damage, particularly induction of DSBs, manifests by phosphorylation of histone H2AX on Ser-139 which is mediated by one of the protein kinases of the phosphoinositide kinase family, namely ATM, ATR, and/ or DNA-PK. The presence of Ser-139 phosphorylated H2AX (γH2AX) is thus a reporter of DNA damage. This protocol describes quantitative assessment of γH2AX detected immunocytochemically in individual cells combined with quantification of cellular DNA content by cytometry. The bivariate analysis of γH2AX expression versus DNA content allows one to correlate DNA damage with the cell cycle phase or DNA ploidy. The protocol can also be used to assess activation (Ser-1981 phosphorylation) of ATM; this event also revealing DNA damage induced by topo I or topo II inhibitors. Examples where DNA damage was induced by topotecan (topo I) and etoposide (topo II) inhibitors are provided.
Histone H2AX phosphorylation; ataxia telangiectasia mutated; ATM; DNA double-strand breaks; flow cytometry; apoptosis; cell cycle; topotecan; etoposide