Quantification of complex DNA damage by ionising radiation : an experimental and theoretical approach
Ionising radiation potentially produces a broad spectrum of damage in DNA including single and double strand breaks (ssb and dsb) and base damages. It has been hypothesised that sites of complex damage within cellular DNA have particular biological significance due to an associated decreased efficiency in repair. The aim of this study is to gain further understanding of the formation of complex DNA damage. Irradiations of plasmid DNA illustrate that an increase in ionising density of the radiation results in a decrease in ssb yields/Gy but an increase in dsb per ssb, indicative of an increase in the number of complex damage sites per simple isolated damage site. As the mechanism for damage formation shifts from purely indirect at low scavenging capacities to a significant proportion of direct at higher scavenging capacities the proportion of complex damage increases. Comparisons with the yields of ssb and dsb simulated by Monte-Carlo calculations for AIK USX and a-particles also indicate this correspondence. The ionisation density of low energy, secondary electrons produced by photons was assessed experimentally from the dependence of the yield of OH radicals escaping intra-track recombination on photon energy. As energy decreases the OH radical yield initially decreases reflecting an increased ionisation density. However, with further decrease in photon energy the yield of OH radicals increases in line with theoretical calculations. Base damage yields were determined for low and high ionising density radiation over a range of scavenging capacities. As scavenging capacity increases the base damage:ssb ratios increases implying a contribution from electrons to base damage. It is proposed that base damage contributes to DNA damage complexity. Complex damage analysis reveals that at cell mimetic scavenging capacities, 23% and 72% of ssb have an additional spatially close damage site following y-ray and a-particle irradiation respectively.