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Exposure to ionizing radiation can induce cellular defense mechanisms including cell activation and rapid proliferation prior to metastasis and in extreme cases can result in cell death. Herewith we apply infrared nano- and microspectroscopy combined with multidimensional data analysis to characterize the effect of ionizing radiation on single glioblastoma nuclei isolated from cells treated with 10 Gy of X-rays or 1 and 10 Gy of protons. We observed chromatin fragmentation related to the formation of apoptotic bodies following X-ray exposure. Following proton irradiation we detected evidence of a DNA conformational change (B-DNA to A-DNA transition) related to DNA repair and accompanied by an increase in protein content related to the synthesis of peptide enzymes involved in DNA repair. We also show that proton exposure can increase cholesterol and sterol ester synthesis, which are important lipids involved in the metastatic process changing the fluidity of the cellular membrane in preparation for rapid proliferation.
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