Delayed heritable damage and epigenetics in radiation-induced neoplastic transformation of human hybrid cells

Mendonca, M.S.; Antoniono, R.J.; Redpath, J.L.

Radiation Research 134(2): 209-216


ISSN/ISBN: 0033-7587
PMID: 8488254
DOI: 10.2307/3578461
Accession: 008426339

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The HeLa times skin fibroblast human hybrid cell system has proven to be an excellent model system for quantitative studies of radiation-induced neoplastic transformation in vitro. A unique aspect of this system is the reexpression of a cell surface protein p75/150 with tumorigenicity. The identification of p75/150 as intestinal alkaline phosphatase (IAP) allowed for the recent development of a more simplified, rapid, and sensitive screening method than the previous p75/150 antibody-based staining procedure. The new method directly detects neoplastically transformed, IAP-expressing cells by staining with the alkaline phosphatase chromogenic substrate, Western Blue (WB). Earlier studies with the antibody-based immunoperoxidase assay indicated that, while no foci with tumor-associated antigen (p75-positive) were evident 15 days after irradiation, the number of foci rose quickly and leveled off between Day 19 and Day 23. This late appearance of the IAP-positive foci suggested that the neoplastic transformation process was not an immediate consequence of radiation damage. The mechanism underlying this observation was unknown. The possibility existed that very small foci and/or foci expressing a low level of IAP were being missed at earlier expression times. The increased sensitivity of the WB staining technique has allowed for the reinvestigation of the kinetics of induction of radiation-induced foci in this system. Experiments were performed where parallel groups of transformation flasks were stained at Days 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, and 21 days after irradiation. The data clearly indicate that the radiation induction of IAP-positive foci is indeed delayed in this system with the vast majority of the foci beginning to appear after Day 9 after irradiation. The delay is not the result of a lack of ability to detect small IAP-positive foci since foci with as few as 15 IAP-positive cells were discernible. We have reported previously that under identical experimental conditions both the establishment of plateau phase and the onset of the expression of lethal mutations also occur after Day 9. We therefore propose that radiation-induced neoplastic transformation of HeLa times skin fibroblast hybrid cells is a consequence of the delayed expression of heritable damage under epigenetic control with a resultant loss of tumor-suppressor function.