Photons bring light into DNA repair: The comet assay and laser microbeams for studying photogenotoxicity of drugs and ageing



This contribution reviews recent applications of micromanipulation, by UV photons, in DNA repair and ageing research as well as in the evaluation of the phototoxicity of drugs. In some cases, micromanipulation is combined with the comet assay, a technique, which allows a direct view on DNA damages. It is shown that, in humans, the sensitivity of DNA to UV induced damage and its subsequent repair is surprisingly stable up to high age and that drugs which are usually non-toxic induce DNA damage when irradiated in parallel by UV irradiation. Using the immune fluorescent comet assay, IFCA, a variant of the comet assay, direct comparison of the effects of ionizing 137Cs radiation with those of localized UV radiation is possible. When a laser microbeam is used to damage DNA in a cell nucleus with high temporal and spatial resolution, it can be observed directly how repair molecules accumulate (are recruited) at the site of damage. Comparison of the recruitment speed allows establishing an order of DNA repair events. (© 2011 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim)