DNA double-strand break repair: a theoretical framework and its application

Philip J. Murray (Lead / Corresponding author), Bart Cornelissen, Katherine A. Vallis, S. Jon Chapman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
190 Downloads (Pure)


DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) are formed as a result of genotoxic insults, such as exogenous ionizing radiation, and are among the most serious types of DNA damage. One of the earliest molecular responses following DSB formation is the phosphorylation of the histone H2AX, giving rise to γH2AX. Many copies of γH2AX are generated at DSBs and can be detected in vitro as foci using well-established immuno-histochemical methods. It has previously been shown that anti-γH2AX antibodies, modified by the addition of the cell-penetrating peptide TAT and a fluorescent or radionuclide label, can be used to visualize and quantify DSBs in vivo. Moreover, when labelled with a high amount of the short-range, Auger electron-emitting radioisotope, (111)In, the amount of DNA damage within a cell can be increased, leading to cell death. In this report, we develop a mathematical model that describes how molecular processes at individual sites of DNA damage give rise to quantifiable foci. Equations that describe stochastic mean behaviours at individual DSB sites are derived and parametrized using population-scale, time-series measurements from two different cancer cell lines. The model is used to examine two case studies in which the introduction of an antibody (anti-γH2AX-TAT) that targets a key component in the DSB repair pathway influences system behaviour. We investigate: (i) how the interaction between anti-γH2AX-TAT and γH2AX effects the kinetics of H2AX phosphorylation and DSB repair and (ii) model behaviour when the anti-γH2AX antibody is labelled with Auger electron-emitting (111)In and can thus instigate additional DNA damage. This work supports the conclusion that DSB kinetics are largely unaffected by the introduction of the anti-γH2AX antibody, a result that has been validated experimentally, and hence the hypothesis that the use of anti-γH2AX antibody to quantify DSBs does not violate the image tracer principle. Moreover, it provides a novel model of DNA damage accumulation in the presence of Auger electron-emitting (111)In that is supported qualitatively by the available experimental data.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20150679
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the Royal Society. Interface
Issue number114
Early online date27 Jan 2016
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2016


  • radiobiology
  • mathematical model
  • DNA damage repair


Dive into the research topics of 'DNA double-strand break repair: a theoretical framework and its application'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this