A computational approach to quantifying miscounting of radiation-induced double-strand break immunofluorescent foci

Samuel Ingram, John Warmenhoven, Nicholas Henthorn, Amy Chadwick, Elham Santina, Stephen J. McMahon, Jan Schuemann, Norman Kirkby, Ranald Mackay, Karen Kirkby, Mike Merchant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Immunofluorescent tagging of DNA double-strand break (DSB) markers, such as γ-H2AX and other DSB repair proteins, are powerful tools in understanding biological consequences following irradiation. However, whilst the technique is widespread, there are many uncertainties related to its ability to resolve and reliably deduce the number of foci when counting using microscopy. We present a new tool for simulating radiation-induced foci in order to evaluate microscope performance within in silico immunofluorescent images. Simulations of the DSB distributions were generated using Monte Carlo track-structure simulation. For each DSB distribution, a corresponding DNA repair process was modelled and the un-repaired DSBs were recorded at several time points. Corresponding microscopy images for both a DSB and (γ-H2AX) fluorescent marker were generated and compared for different microscopes, radiation types and doses. Statistically significant differences in miscounting were found across most of the tested scenarios. These inconsistencies were propagated through to repair kinetics where there was a perceived change between radiation-types. These changes did not reflect the underlying repair rate and were caused by inconsistencies in foci counting. We conclude that these underlying uncertainties must be considered when analysing images of DNA damage markers to ensure differences observed are real and are not caused by non-systematic miscounting.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCommunications Biology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 14 Jun 2022

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