Direct Ionization of DNA in Solution

  • J. H. Miller
  • W. E. Wilson
  • R. H. Ritchie
Part of the Basic Life Sciences book series (BLSC, volume 63)


Most of the energy absorbed in the cell nucleus from a radiation field goes into the aqueous medium that surrounds macromolecules, like DNA, which are critical to the normal function of cells. This part of the energy deposition produces numerous reactive species that can diffuse to DNA sequences and induce chemical changes. The average diffusion distance of the free radicals that mediate this indirect mode of DNA damage is only a few nanometers because the cellular medium contains a high concentration of molecules that rapidly scavenge the radiation-induced species. Under these conditions, direct interaction of the radiation field with DNA can not be neglected as a potential mode of damage induction. Two aspects of the direct effect will be discussed in this paper: (1) screening of the interaction between DNA and charged particles by the dielectric response of the aqueous medium and (2) the impact-parameter dependence of these interactions.


Momentum Transfer Impact Parameter Primary Electron Ionization Threshold Projectile Velocity 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. H. Miller
    • 1
  • W. E. Wilson
    • 1
  • R. H. Ritchie
    • 2
  1. 1.Pacific Northwest LaboratoryRichlandUSA
  2. 2.Oak Ridge National LaboratoryOak RidgeUSA

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