Purpose: To determine whether DNA-dependent protein kinase (DNA-PK) and poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP-1) are involved in eliciting the rapid fluctuations of radiosensitivity that have been observed when cells are exposed to short pulses of ionizing radiation.
Materials and methods: The effect of DNA-PK and PARP-1 inhibitors on the survival of cells to split-dose irradiation was investigated using Chinese hamster V79 fibroblasts and human carcinoma SQ-20B cells. The responses of PARP-1 proficient and PARP-1 knockout mouse 3T3 fibroblasts were compared in a similar split-dose assay.
Results: Inactivation of DNA-PK by wortmannin potentiated radiation-induced cell kill but it did not alter the oscillatory, W-shaped pattern of early radiation response. In contrast, oscillatory radiation response was abolished by 3-aminobenzamide, a reversible inhibitor of enzymes containing a PARP catalytic domain. The oscillatory response was also lacking in PARP-1 knockout mouse 3T3 fibroblasts.
Conclusion: The results show that PARP-1 plays a key role in the earliest steps of cell response to ionizing radiation with clonogenic ability or growth as endpoint. It is hypothesized that rapid poly(ADP-ribosylation) of target proteins, or recruitment of repair proteins by activated PARP-1 at the sites of DNA damage, bring about rapid chromatin remodelling that may affect the incidence of chromosomal damage upon re-irradiation.