A correlation between nuclear supercoiling and the response of patients with bladder cancer to radiotherapy

T. H. Lynch, P. Anderson, D. M A Wallace, G. M. Kondratowicz, R. P. Beaney, Andrew T M Vaughan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Single cell tumour suspensions were prepared from biopsy and urine samples from 28 patients with muscle invasive transitional cell carcinoma of the bladder. Nuclear extracts (nucleoids) containing intact chromatin were isolated from these cells and the condensation of DNA supercoils measured by the light scattered from individual nucleoids within a flow cytometer. Exposure of these nucleoids to 10 μg ml-1 ethidium bromide produced 78.9% increase in light scatter compared to those treated with 50 μg ml-1. This finding is consistent with the known effect of ethidium bromide on DNA supercoiling and confirms that the light scatter signal is responding to changes at this level of DNA organisation. Cell samples were also exposed to 12 Gy of gamma radiation and the effect on nucleoid light scatter recorded. Of the patients studied prior to radiotherapy, those with persistent disease 3 months after treatment generated an increase in nucleoid light scatter of +9.35 ± 4.8% after 12 Gy irradiation, of these, 2/14 produced nucleoids that relaxed by more than 10% compared to controls. Those patients with no evidence of disease after radiotherapy gave an increase in nucleoid light scatter after in vitro irradiation of +19.3 ± 4.5% of which 10/14 (71%) relaxed by more than 10%. It is proposed that the increased relaxation within the supercoiled DNA from patients whose tumours were undetectable 3 months after therapy, is related to the inherent radiosensitivity of these tumour cells. Such a difference in nucleoid response within tumour cells from patients that responded to radiation may arise due to a decreased affinity of DNA loops for the nuclear matrix. This structural change, at a site associated with the initiation of DNA synthesis, may affect the ability of cells to continue successful cell division after radiation damage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)867-871
Number of pages5
JournalBritish Journal of Cancer
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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