Quantification of γH2AX foci in response to Ionising radiation

Li Jeen Mah, Raja S Vasireddy, Michelle M Tang, George T Georgiadis, Assam El-Osta, Tom C. Karagiannis

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15 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs), which are induced by either endogenous metabolic processes or by exogenous sources, are one of the most critical DNA lesions with respect to survival and preservation of genomic integrity. An early response to the induction of DSBs is phosphorylation of the H2A histone variant, H2AX, at the serine-139 residue, in the highly conserved C-terminal SQEY motif, forming γH2AX. Following induction of DSBs, H2AX is rapidly phosphorylated by the phosphatidyl-inosito 3-kinase (PIKK) family of proteins, ataxia telangiectasia mutated (ATM), DNA-protein kinase catalytic subunit and ATM and RAD3-related (ATR). Typically, only a few base-pairs (bp) are implicated in a DSB, however, there is significant signal amplification, given the importance of chromatin modifications in DNA damage signalling and repair. Phosphorylation of H2AX mediated predominantly by ATM spreads to adjacent areas of chromatin, affecting approximately 0.03% of total cellular H2AX per DSB. This corresponds to phosphorylation of approximately 2000 H2AX molecules spanning ~2 Mbp regions of chromatin surrounding the site of the DSB and results in the formation of discrete γH2AX foci which can be easily visualized and quantitated by immunofluorescence microscopy. The loss of γH2AX at DSB reflects repair, however, there is some controversy as to what defines complete repair of DSBs; it has been proposed that rejoining of both strands of DNA is adequate however, it has also been suggested that re-instatement of the original chromatin state of compaction is necessary. The disappearence of γH2AX involves at least in part, dephosphorylation by phosphatases, phosphatase 2A and phosphatase 4C. Further, removal of γH2AX by redistribution involving histone exchange with H2A.Z has been implicated. Importantly, the quantitative analysis of γH2AX foci has led to a wide range of applications in medical and nuclear research. Here, we demonstrate the most commonly used immunofluorescence method for evaluation of initial DNA damage by detection and quantitation of γH2AX foci in γ-irradiated adherent human keratinocytes.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1957
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number38
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2010
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Chromatin modification
  • DNA damage
  • DNA double-strand break
  • H2AX
  • Ionising radiation
  • Issue 38
  • Medicine
  • Repair

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