The Formation of Micronuclei after Exposure to Ionizing Radiation

  • C. Streffer
  • W.-U. Müller
  • K. Wuttke


It is known for many decades that chromatin particles can appear in the cellular cytoplasm. These particles, micronuclei, originate from whole chromosomes or acentric fragments which usually get lost from the cell nucleus during mitosis (Heddle and Harris 1975). Electron microscopy has shown that micronuclei have a typical nuclear envelope consisting of two membranes, the lamina and nuclear pores (Geraud et al. 1989). Micronuclei are able to synthesize RNA if a chromosome fragment with a nucleolus organizer is included. They also synthesize DNA as measured by 3H-thymidine incorporation (Ghosh and Pawelez 1984). With antibodies against centromers it can be studied whether the micronuclei contain whole chromosomes or only fragments. Such investigations have revealed that usually between 30–50% of the total number of micronuclei include whole chromosomes in untreated cells. Such a relation was found in established cell lines and in biopsies from human rectal carcinomas (Weissenborn and Streffer 1991). After irradiation this relation decreased and more micronuclei without a kinetochore appeared (Table 1). The expression of micronuclei with acentric fragments increases and becomes more obvious under these conditions (Streffer 1992).


Binucleated Cell Micronucleus Assay Micronucleus Frequency Acentric Fragment Preimplantation Mouse Embryo 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. Streffer
    • 1
  • W.-U. Müller
    • 1
  • K. Wuttke
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Medical RadiobiologyUniversity of EssenEssenGermany

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