The Ku-dependent non-homologous end-joining pathway contributes to low-dose radiation-stimulated cell survival

Xiaoyan Yu, Hongyan Wang, Ping Wang, Benjamin P C Chen, Ya Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Low-dose (≤0.1 Gy) radiation-induced adaptive responses could protect cells from high-challenge dose radiation-induced killing. The protective role is believed to promote the repair of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) that are a severe threat to cell survival. However, it remains unclear which repair pathway, homologous recombination repair (HRR) or non-homologous end-joining (NHEJ), is promoted by low-dose radiation. To address this question, we examined the effects of low-dose (0.1 Gy) on high-challenge dose (2-4 Gy) induced killing in NHEJ- or HRR-deficient cell lines. We showed that 0.1 Gy reduced the high-dose radiation-induced killing for wild-type or HRR-deficient cells, but enhanced the killing for NHEJ-deficient cells. Interestingly, low-dose radiation also enhanced the killing for wild-type cells exposed to high-challenge dose radiation with high-linear energy transfer (LET). Because it is known that high-LET radiation induces an inefficient NHEJ, these results support that the low-dose radiation-stimulated protective role in reducing high-challenge dose (low-LET)-induced cell killing might depend on NHEJ. In addition, we showed that low-dose radiation activated the DNA-PK catalytic subunit (DNA-PKcs) and the inhibitor of DNA-PKcs destroyed the low-dose radiation-induced protective role. These results suggest that low-dose radiation might promote NHEJ through the stimulation of DNA-PKcs activity and; therefore, increase the resistance of cells to high-challenge dose radiation-induced killing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)369-374
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of cellular physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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