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It is well established that chromosomes exist in discrete territories (CTs) in interphase and are positioned in a cell-type specific probabilistic manner. The relative localisation of individual CTs within cell nuclei remains poorly understood, yet many cancers are associated with specific chromosome rearrangements and there is good evidence that relative territorial position influences their frequency of exchange. To examine this further, we characterised the complexity of radiation-induced chromosome exchanges in normal human bronchial epithelial (NHBE) cells by M-FISH analysis of PCC spreads and correlated the exchanges induced with their preferred interphase position, as determined by 1/2-colour 2D-FISH analysis, at the time of irradiation. We found that the frequency and complexity of aberrations induced were reduced in ellipsoid NHBE cells in comparison to previous observations in spherical cells, consistent with aberration complexity being dependent upon the number and proximity of damaged CTs, i.e. lesion proximity. To ask if particular chromosome neighbourhoods could be identified we analysed all radiation-induced pair-wise exchanges using SCHIP (statistics for chromosome interphase positioning) and found that exchanges between chromosomes (1;13), (9;17), (9;18), (12;18) and (16;21) all occurred more often than expected assuming randomness. All of these pairs were also found to be either sharing similar preferred positions in interphase and/or sharing neighbouring territory boundaries. We also analysed a human small cell lung cancer cell line, DMS53, by M-FISH observing the genome to be highly rearranged, yet possessing rearrangements also involving chromosomes (1;13) and (9;17). Our findings show evidence for the occurrence of non-random exchanges that may reflect the territorial organisation of chromosomes in interphase at time of damage and highlight the importance of cellular geometry for the induction of aberrations of varying complexity after exposure to both low and high-LET radiation.

Original publication




Journal article


Mutat Res

Publication Date





66 - 77


Complex chromosome exchanges, Nuclear geometry, α-Particles, Bronchi, Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung, Cell Nucleus, Cells, Cultured, Chromosome Aberrations, Chromosome Positioning, Chromosomes, Human, Epithelial Cells, Gamma Rays, Genome, Human, Humans, Image Processing, Computer-Assisted, In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence, Interphase, Karyotyping, Lung Neoplasms, Metaphase