A simple microscopy setup for visualizing cellular responses to DNA damage at particle accelerator facilities

Haibin Qian, Ron A Hoebe, Michel R Faas, Marc Jan van Goethem, Emiel R van der Graaf, Christoph Meyer, Harry Kiewiet, Sytze Brandenburg, Przemek M Krawczyk*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Cellular responses to DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) not only promote genomic integrity in healthy tissues, but also largely determine the efficacy of many DNA-damaging cancer treatments, including X-ray and particle therapies. A growing body of evidence suggests that activation of the mechanisms that detect, signal and repair DSBs may depend on the complexity of the initiating DNA lesions. Studies focusing on this, as well as on many other radiobiological questions, require reliable methods to induce DSBs of varying complexity, and to visualize the ensuing cellular responses. Accelerated particles of different energies and masses are exceptionally well suited for this task, due to the nature of their physical interactions with the intracellular environment, but visualizing cellular responses to particle-induced damage - especially in their early stages - at particle accelerator facilities, remains challenging. Here we describe a straightforward approach for real-time imaging of early response to particle-induced DNA damage. We rely on a transportable setup with an inverted fluorescence confocal microscope, tilted at a small angle relative to the particle beam, such that cells can be irradiated and imaged without any microscope or beamline modifications. Using this setup, we image and analyze the accumulation of fluorescently-tagged MDC1, RNF168 and 53BP1-key factors involved in DSB signalling-at DNA lesions induced by 254 MeV α-particles. Our results provide a demonstration of technical feasibility and reveal asynchronous initiation of accumulation of these proteins at different individual DSBs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number14528
Number of pages10
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 15-Jul-2021

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