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The yield of chromosome aberrations is not only dependent on dose but also on radiation quality, with high linear energy transfer (LET) typically having a greater biological effectiveness per unit dose than those of low-LET radiation. Differences in radiation track structure and cell morphology can also lead to quantitative differences in the spectra of the resulting chromosomal rearrangements, especially at low doses associated with typical human exposures. The development of combinatorial fluorescent labelling techniques (such as mFISH and mBAND) has helped to reveal the complexity of rearrangements, showing increasing complexity of observed rearrangements with increasing LET but has a resolution limited to ∼10 MBp. High-LET particles have not only been shown to produce clustered sites of DNA damage but also produce multiple correlated breaks along its path resulting in DNA fragments smaller than the resolution of these techniques. Additionally, studies have shown that the vast majority of radiation-induced HPRT mutations were also not detectable using fluorescent in situ hybridisation (FISH) techniques, with correlation of breaks along the track being reflected in the complexity of mutations, with intra- and inter-chromosomal insertions, and inversions occurring at the sites of some of the deletions. Therefore, the analysis of visible chromosomal rearrangements observed using current FISH techniques is likely to represent just the tip of the iceberg, considerably underestimating the extent and complexity of radiation induced rearrangements.

Original publication




Journal article


Radiat Prot Dosimetry

Publication Date





295 - 301


Chromosome Aberrations, DNA Damage, Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation, Humans, In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence, Linear Energy Transfer, Relative Biological Effectiveness