- Heavy ions and X-rays in brain tumor treatment : a comparison of their biological effects on tissue slice cultures (2009)
- Background: In this interdisciplinary project, the biological effects of heavy ions are compared to those of X-rays using tissue slice culture preparations from rodents and humans. Advantages of this biological model are the conservation of an organotypic environment and the independency from genetic immortalization strategies used to generate cell lines. Its open access allows easy treatment and observation via live-imaging microscopy. Materials and methods: Rat brains and human brain tumor tissue are cut into 300 micro m thick tissue slices. These slices are cultivated using a membrane-based culture system and kept in an incubator at 37°C until treatment. The slices are treated with X-rays at the radiation facility of the University Hospital in Frankfurt at doses of up to 40 Gy. The heavy ion irradiations were performed at the UNILAC facility at GSI with different ions of 11.4 A MeV and fluences ranging from 0.5–10 x 106 particles/cm². Using 3D-confocal microscopy, cell-death and immune cell activation of the irradiated slices are analyzed. Planning of the irradiation experiments is done with simulation programs developed at GSI and FIAS. Results: After receiving a single application of either X-rays or heavy ions, slices were kept in culture for up to 9d post irradiation. DNA damage was visualized using gamma H2AXstaining. Here, a dose-dependent increase and time-dependent decrease could clearly be observed for the X-ray irradiation. Slices irradiated with heavy ions showed less gamma H2AX-positive cells distributed evenly throughout the slice, even though particles were calculated to penetrate only 90–100 micro m into the slice. Conclusions: Single irradiations of brain tissue, even at high doses of 40 Gy, will result neither in tissue damage visible on a macroscopic level nor necrosis. This is in line with the view that the brain is highly radio-resistant. However, DNA damage can be detected very well in tissue slices using gamma H2AX-immuno staining. Thus, slice cultures are an excellent tool to study radiation-induced damage and repair mechanisms in living tissues.
- Nanolesions induced by heavy ions in human tissues: experimental and theoretical studies (2012)
- The biological effects of energetic heavy ions are attracting increasing interest for their applications in cancer therapy and protection against space radiation. The cascade of events leading to cell death or late effects starts from stochastic energy deposition on the nanometer scale and the corresponding lesions in biological molecules, primarily DNA. We have developed experimental techniques to visualize DNA nanolesions induced by heavy ions. Nanolesions appear in cells as “streaks” which can be visualized by using different DNA repair markers. We have studied the kinetics of repair of these “streaks” also with respect to the chromatin conformation. Initial steps in the modeling of the energy deposition patterns at the micrometer and nanometer scale were made with MCHIT and TRAX models, respectively.
- Genome-wide multi-parametric analysis of H2AX or γH2AX distributions during ionizing radiation-induced DNA damage response (2013)
- Background: After induction of DNA double strand breaks (DSBs), the DNA damage response (DDR) is activated. One of the earliest events in DDR is the phosphorylation of serine 139 on the histone variant H2AX (gH2AX) catalyzed by phosphatidylinositol 3-kinases-related kinases. Despite being extensively studied, H2AX distribution across the genome and gH2AX spreading around DSBs sites in the context of different chromatin compaction states or transcription are yet to be fully elucidated. Materials and methods: gH2AX was induced in human hepatocellular carcinoma cells (HepG2) by exposure to 10 Gy X-rays (250 kV, 16 mA). Samples were incubated 0.5, 3 or 24 hours post irradiation to investigate early, intermediate and late stages of DDR, respectively. Chromatin immunoprecipitation was performed to select H2AX, H3 and gH2AX-enriched chromatin fractions. Chromatin-associated DNA was then sequenced by Illumina ChIP-Seq platform. HepG2 gene expression and histone modification (H3K36me3, H3K9me3) ChIP-Seq profiles were retrieved from Gene Expression Omnibus (accession numbers GSE30240 and GSE26386, respectively). Results: First, we combined G/C usage, gene content, gene expression or histone modification profiles (H3K36me3, H3K9me3) to define genomic compartments characterized by different chromatin compaction states or transcriptional activity. Next, we investigated H3, H2AX and gH2AX distributions in such defined compartments before and after exposure to ionizing radiation (IR) to study DNA repair kinetics during DDR. Our sequencing results indicate that H2AX distribution followed H3 occupancy and, thus, the nucleosome pattern. The highest H2AX and H3 enrichment was observed in transcriptionally active compartments (euchromatin) while the lowest was found in low G/C and gene-poor compartments (heterochromatin). Under physiological conditions, the body of highly and moderately transcribed genes was devoid of gH2AX, despite presenting high H2AX levels. gH2AX accumulation was observed in 5’ or 3’ flanking regions, instead. The same genes showed a prompt gH2AX accumulation during the early stage of DDR which then decreased over time as DDR proceeded. Finally, during the late stage of DDR the residual gH2AX signal was entirely retained in heterochromatic compartments. At this stage, euchromatic compartments were completely devoid of gH2AX despite presenting high levels of non-phosphorylated H2AX. Conclusions: We show that gH2AX distribution ultimately depends on H2AX occupancy, the latter following H3 occupancy and, thus, nucleosome pattern. Both H2AX and H3 levels were higher in actively transcribed compartments. However, gH2AX levels were remarkably low over the body of actively transcribed genes suggesting that transcription levels antagonize gH2AX spreading. Moreover, repair processes did not take place uniformly across the genome; rather, DNA repair was affected by genomic location and transcriptional activity. We propose that higher H2AX density in euchromaticcompartments results in high relative gH2AXconcentration soon after the activation of DDR, thus favoring the recruitment of the DNA repair machinery to those compartments. When the damage is repaired and gH2AX is removed, its residual fraction is retained in the heterochromatic compartments which are then targeted and repaired at later times.