Long time persistence of residual 53BP1/γ-H2AX foci in human lymphocytes in relationship to apoptosis, chromatin condensation and biological dosimetry.
Novel assay for radiosensitivity is based on measurements of residual DNA repair foci produced by several proteins including phosphorylated H2AX (γ-H2AX), recombinase Rad51 (Rad51) and tumour suppressor p53 binding protein 1 (53BP1), which co-localise with radiation-induced DNA double-strand breaks (DSB). Here, we studied dose-response for residual 53BP1, Rad51, and γ-H2AX foci in relationship to apoptosis and chromatin condensation in human G(0)-lymphocytes. Residual foci, apoptosis and condensation of chromatin were studied following irradiation with γ-rays at doses of 0.5-10 Gy. No clear dose response for residual Rad51 was seen. Residual 53BP1/γ-H2AX foci remained in human lymphocytes up to four weeks after irradiation. No foci formed during radiation-induced apoptosis. We provide evidence that irreversible apoptotic condensation of chromatin is responsible for arrest of residual foci and preventing de novo focus formation. Similar linear dose dependences up to 2 Gy were observed for the 53BP1/γ-H2AX foci at all studied time points. At higher doses, saturation and decline were caused by preferential elimination of apoptotic lymphocytes with residual foci. While primary 53BP1 and γ-H2AX foci almost completely co-localised, co-localisation of residual foci did not exceed 17%, indicating that 53BP1 and γ-H2AX proteins may remain for different times at the locations of DSB repair. Prolonged persistence of residual 53BP1/γ-H2AX foci may be used for biological dosimetry within the dose range up to 2 Gy. While foci are not formed during radiation-induced apoptosis in human lymphocytes, elimination of apoptotic cells with residual foci may affect the dose response.