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To characterize the DNA damage induced by K-shell ionization of phosphorus atom in DNA backbone on the level of hydration, the yields of DNA strand breaks and base lesions arising from the interaction of ultrasoft X rays with energies around the phosphorus K edge were determined using dry and fully hydrated pUC18 plasmid DNA samples. Base lesions and bistranded clustered DNA damage sites were revealed by postirradiation treatment with the base excision repair proteins endonuclease III (Nth) and formamidopyrimidine-DNA glycosylase (Fpg). The yield of prompt single-strand breaks (SSBs) with dry DNA irradiated at the phosphorus K resonance energy (2153 eV) is about one-third that below the phosphorus K edge (2147 eV). The yields of prompt double-strand breaks (DSBs) were found to be less dependent on the X-ray energy, with the yields being about two times lower when irradiated at 2153 eV. Heat-labile sites were not produced in detectable amounts. The yields of base lesions were dependent on the energy of the X rays, especially when the DNA was fully hydrated. Bistranded clustered DNA damage sites, revealed enzymatically as additional DSBs, were produced in dry as well as in hydrated DNA with all three energies of X rays. The yields of these enzyme-sensitive sites were also lower when irradiated at the phosphorus K resonance energy. On the other hand, the yields of prompt SSBs and enzyme-sensitive sites for the two off-resonance energies were, larger than those determined previously for gamma radiation. The results indicate that the photoelectric effect caused by X rays and dense ionization and excitation events along the tracks of low-energy secondary electrons are more effective at inducing SSBs and enzyme-sensitive sites. The complex types of damage, prompt and enzymatically induced DSBs, are preferentially induced by phosphorus K resonance at 2153 eV rather than simple SSBs and isolated base lesions, particularly in hydrated conditions. It is concluded that not only the phosphorus K resonance and resulting emission of low-energy LMM-Auger electrons ( approximately 120 eV) but also the level of hydration plays an important role in the induction of complex damage in plasmid DNA.

Original publication




Journal article


Radiat Res

Publication Date





296 - 305


Computer Simulation, DNA, DNA Damage, Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation, Models, Chemical, Models, Molecular, Nucleic Acid Conformation, Phosphorus, Plasmids, Radiation Dosage, Solutions, Water, X-Rays