Hada, M., Cucinotta, F. A., Gonda, S. R. and Wu, H. mBAND Analysis of Chromosomal Aberrations in Human Epithelial Cells Exposed to Low- and High-LET Radiation. Radiat. Res. 168, 98–105 (2007).
Energetic heavy ions pose a potential health risk to astronauts who have participated in extended space missions. High-LET radiation is much more effective than low-LET radiation in the induction of biological effects, including cell inactivation, genetic mutations, cataracts and cancer. Most of these biological end points are closely correlated with chromosomal damage, which can be used as a biomarker for radiation damage. Multicolor banding in situ hybridization (mBAND) has proven to be highly useful for the study of intrachromosomal aberrations, which have been suggested as a biomarker of exposure to high-LET radiation. To investigate biological signatures of radiation quality and the complexity of intrachromosomal aberrations, we exposed human epithelial cells in vitro to 137Cs γ rays or iron ions (600 MeV/nucleon) and collected chromosomes using a premature chromosome condensation technique. Aberrations in chromosome 3 were analyzed using mBAND probes. The results of our study confirmed the observation of a higher incidence of inversions for high-LET radiation. However, detailed analysis of the inversion type revealed that both iron ions and γ rays induced a low incidence of simple inversions. Half of the inversions observed in the low-LET-irradiated samples were accompanied by other types of intrachromosome aberrations, but few inversions were accompanied by interchromosome aberrations. In contrast, iron ions induced a significant fraction of inversions that involved complex rearrangements of both inter- and intrachromosome exchanges.