Radiation-induced chromosome aberrations: Insights gained from biophysical modeling

Lynn Hlatky, Rainer K. Sachs, Mariel Vazquez, Michael N. Cornforth

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


Enzymatic misrepair of ionizing-radiation-induced DNA damage can produce large-scale rearrangements of the genome, such as translocations and dicentrics. These and other chromosome exchange aberrations can cause major phenotypic alterations, including cell death, mutation and neoplasia. Exchange formation requires that two (or more) genomic loci come together spatially. Consequently, the surprisingly rich aberration spectra uncovered by recently developed techniques, when combined with biophysically based computer modeling, help characterize large-scale chromatin architecture in the interphase nucleus. Most results are consistent with a picture whereby chromosomes are mainly confined to territories, chromatin motion is limited, and interchromosomal interactions involve mainly territory surfaces. Aberration spectra and modeling also help characterize DNA repair/misrepair mechanisms. Quantitative results for mammalian cells are best described by a breakage-and-reunion model, suggesting that the dominant recombinational mechanism during the G 0/G 1 phase of the cell cycle is non-homologous end-joining of radiogenic DNA double strand breaks. In turn, better mechanistic and quantitative understanding of aberration formation gives new insights into health-related applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)714-723
Number of pages10
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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