The role of DNA double strand breaks in ionizing radiation-induced killing of eukaryotic cells

Bioessays. 1991 Dec;13(12):641-8. doi: 10.1002/bies.950131204.


A widely accepted assumption in radiobiology is that ionizing radiation kills cells by inducing forms of damage in DNA structures that lead to the formation of lethal chromosome aberrations. One goal of radiation biology research is the identification of these forms of DNA damage, the characterization of the mechanisms involved in their repair and the elucidation of the processes involved in their transformation to chromosome damage. In recent years, evidence has accumulated implicating DNA double stranded breaks as lesions relevant for cell killing. Here, the available information on this topic is reviewed together with the methods most commonly used to quantitate induction and repair of this type of lesion. The presentation concludes with an outline of present research directions and future goals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Death
  • Chromosome Aberrations
  • DNA / radiation effects
  • DNA Damage*
  • DNA Repair
  • Eukaryotic Cells / radiation effects*


  • DNA