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Induction of DNA DSBs by low-LET radiations reflects clustered damage produced predominantly by low-energy, secondary electron "track ends". Cell inactivation and induction of DSBs and their rejoining, assayed using pulsed-field gel electrophoresis, were determined in Chinese hamster V79-4 cells irradiated as a monolayer with characteristic carbon K-shell (CK) (0.28 keV), aluminum K-shell (AlK) (1.49 keV), and titanium K-shell (TiK) (4.55 keV) ultrasoft X rays under aerobic and anaerobic conditions. Relative to (60)Co gamma rays, the relative biological effectiveness (RBE) for cell inactivation at 10% survival and for induction of DSBs increases as the photon energy of the ultrasoft X rays decreases. The RBE values for cell inactivation and for induction of DSBs by CK ultrasoft X rays are 2.8 +/- 0.3 and 2.7 +/- 0.3, respectively, and by TiK ultrasoft X rays are 1.5 +/- 0.1 and 1.4 +/- 0.1, respectively. Oxygen enhancement ratios (OERs) of approximately 2 for cell inactivation and induction of DSBs by ultrasoft X rays are independent of the photon energy. The time scale for rejoining of DNA DSBs is similar for both ultrasoft X rays and 60Co gamma rays. From the size distribution of small DNA fragments down to 0.48 kbp, we concluded that DSBs are induced randomly by CK and AlK ultrasoft X rays. Therefore, ultrasoft X rays are more efficient per unit dose than gamma radiation at inducing DNA DSBs, the yield of which increases with decreasing photon energy.


Journal article


Radiat Res

Publication Date





440 - 448


Animals, Cell Line, Cricetinae, Cricetulus, DNA Damage, Photons, X-Rays