Possible role of chromatin alteration in the radiosensitivity of ataxia-telangiectasia

W. N. Hittelman, T. K. Pandita

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Cells derived from individuals with ataxia-telangiectasia (A-T) are known to exhibit increased sensitivity to ionizing radiation and certain radiomimetic chemical agents. Here we summarize our findings regarding the role of chromosome damage and repair in this radiosensitivity. Lymphoblastoid cells derived from A-T homozygotes were characterized for initial chromosome (premature chromosome condensation) and DNA (neutral filter elution) damage and repair kinetics in cells from G1 and G2 cell cycle phases. Despite initial levels of DNA damage being similar to normal controls, A-T cells exhibited nearly a two-fold higher initial amount of chromosome damage. Different A-T cell lines exhibited differing chromosome repair capacities compared with control lymphoblastoid cell lines. These results suggest that A-T cells have an altered chromatin structure whereby DNA double-strand breaks are apparently more efficiently converted into chromosome breaks. Four A-T heterozygote cell lines were examined for chromosome damage and repair in the same fashion and all exhibited increased levels of chromosome damage, although the degree of sensitivity was more prominent in G2 phase cells (two-fold higher) than in G1 phase cells (1.5-fold higher than normal controls). These results suggest that A-T heterozygotes also exhibit an altered chromatin structure which impacts on chromosome damage expression. Of interest, A-T cells also exhibited increased chromosome stickiness after irradiation, and telomere regions appeared to be frequently involved. While the molecular basis for preferential telomere involvement is not understood, these results again suggest that structural alterations in the chromatin of A-T cells may play an important role in A-T radiosensitivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S109-S113
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Biology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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