Establishing the comet assay to determine the effects of different perturbations on DNA repair capacity
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Single cell gel electrophoresis (SCGE), more commonly known as the Comet assay, is an uncomplicated, affordable and versatile method for investigating DNA damage and repair. Existing comet–assay based methods were modified and applied in this study in order to examine the effects of different perturbations on the DNA repair capacity of different samples. Mitochondrial functioning has a vast effect on overall cell physiology and does not simply involve the production of energy in the form of ATP that sustains common biological processes, but is also associated with important cellular occurrences such as apoptosis and ROS production. It is suggested that a change in mitochondrial function may lead to extensive ROS production which may negatively affect macromolecules, including proteins involved in DNA repair pathways, and impaired energy formation which in turn may hamper the proper occurrence of energy driven processes. Complex I and ?III knock–down systems established in 143B cells are used to investigate the effect that perturbations of the energy metabolism may have on DNA repair capacity. Metallothioneins (MTs) are known to play an imperative role in trace element homeostasis and detoxification of metals and are effective ROS scavengers. The prooxidant environment that heavy metal imbalance causes may result in mutagenesis and transformation through DNA damage. It is suggested that an imbalance in the metal homeostasis caused by MT knock–out may create an environment favourable for DNA damage formation and at the same time impair DNA repair pathways. Because of the multi–functionality and involvement of metallothioneins in such a wide variety of biological processes, it was considered interesting and essential to extend the investigation on the effect of the absence of metallothioneins on DNA repair. A metallothionein I and ?II knock–out mouse model is employed to determine the effect of MT knock–out on DNA repair capacity. It was clear from the results obtained that transfection of cells, as used to investigate a perturbation in the energy metabolism in 143B cells, has an impairing effect on DRC. It was also confirmed that metallothioneins play an important and diverse role in cell biology since the absence thereof inhibits both BER and NER.