The cell cycle dependence of radiation-induced apoptosis was measured using mitotically synchronized REC:myc(ch1) and Rat1:mycb cells. Cells in S and G2 phases were more susceptible; the apoptotic fraction was about 0.7–0.8 as compared to about 0.4 for G1 cells at a dose of 10 Gy. Two-dimensional cytofluorimetric analysis of cells, pulsed-labeled with bromodeoxyuridine and then irradiated with 10 Gy, showed both G1 and G2 blocks (6–8 h) for REC:myc(ch1) cells but only G2 block for Rat1:mycb cells. Consistent with these results, wild-type p53 and WAF1 (or p21), known to play a role in G1 delay, was induced by radiation in REC:myc(ch1) but not in Rat1:mycb cells. The cell cycle dependence of radiation-induced apoptosis and the absence of a G1 block for Rat1:mycb cells led to the prediction and observation of the novel “inverse split-dose effect,” i.e., a radiation dose given in two equal halves separated by a few hours yielded a higher level of apoptosis relative to that resulting from the same total dose given all at once. This effect is due to cell cycle progression from G1 to the more sensitive S-G2 phase during the interval between the split doses. In contrast, the inverse split-dose effect for apoptosis is absent for REC:myc(ch1), due presumably to the radiation-induced G1 delay. Parallel split-dose experiments, but using clonogenic survival as end points, show recovery for REC:myc(ch1) cells but not for Rat1:mycb cells, reflecting the influence of split-dose, radiation-induced apoptosis.

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Supported in part by National Cancer Institute Grant CA52713 (NIH, United States Department of Health and Human Services).

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