Early increase of radiation-induced γH2AX foci in a human Ku70/80 knockdown cell line characterized by an enhanced radiosensitivity

Veerle Vandersickel, Julie Depuydt, Bram Van Bockstaele, Gianpaolo Perletti, Jan Philippe, Hubert Thierens, Anne Vral

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


A better understanding of the underlying mechanisms of DNA repair after exposure to ionizing radiation represents a research priority aimed at improving the outcome of clinical radiotherapy. Because of the close association with DNA double strand break (DSB) repair, phosphorylation of the histone H2AX protein (γH2AX), quantified by immunodetection, has recently been used as a method to study DSB induction and repair at low and clinically relevant radiation doses. However, the lack of consistency in literature points to the need to further validate the role of H2AX phosphorylation in DSB repair and the use of this technique to determine intrinsic radiosensitivity. In the present study we used human mammary epithelial MCF10A cells, characterized by a radiosensitive phenotype due to reduced levels of the Ku70 and Ku80 repair proteins, and investigated whether this repair-deficient cell line displays differences in the phosphorylation pattern of H2AX protein compared to repair-proficient MCF10A cells. This was established by measuring formation and disappearance of γH2AX foci after irradiating synchronized cell populations with (60)Co γ-rays. Our results show statistically significant differences in the number of γH2AX foci between the repair-deficient and -proficient cell line, with a higher amount of γH2AX foci present at early times post-irradiation in the Ku-deficient cell line. However, the disappearance of those differences at later post-irradiation times questions the use of this assay to determine intrinsic radiosensitivity, especially in a clinical setting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)633-41
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Radiation Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


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