We have examined bleomycin-induced DNA damage and repair in confluent human fibroblasts that were reversibly permeabilized to small molecules (e.g., deoxynucleotide triphosphates and trypan blue) by a short exposure to 80 µg/ml lysophosphatidylcholine. We found that this treatment dramatically increases the dose effectiveness of bleomycin in inducing DNA strand breaks and DNA repair synthesis in these cells. For example, when intact cells (not treated with lysophosphatidylcholine) were incubated with 100 µg/ml bleomycin, only about 5% of the cell population was observed to have undergone measurable DNA repair synthesis (by autoradiography). On the other hand, when these cells were reversibly permeabilized with lysophosphatidylcholine before treatment, we observed significant repair synthesis in >80% of the cells using a bleomycin dose of only 5 µg/ml. Furthermore, sufficient levels of single- and double-strand breaks were introduced into nucleosome linker DNA of permeabilized cells to yield a nucleosomal repeat pattern in alkaline and neutral agarose gels. However, no change in the amount of DNA <23 kilobases was observed on these gels when intact cells were incubated with bleomycin.

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This study was supported by NIH Grant ES02614. The LKB laser densitometer used in this study was purchased with funds provided by National Science Foundation Grant PCM-8400841.

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