Jacob Sanders, a student in the McCord Lab, is one of the authors on a new paper published at Nature Communications on the effects of X-ray irradiation on 3D chromosome folding. The project began as a collaboration with ORISE scientist Adayabalam Balajee. Researchers found that when X-rays damage the DNA inside human cells, chromosome folding changes differently depending on the cell type. Blood cells are affected differently from skin cells, which may help explain their differences in sensitivity to X-rays.
In addition, their work reveals a common effect across all tested cell types. Special chromosome structure domains called TADs become more physically isolated from each other after X-ray damage. These TAD structures are important to maintain proper gene regulation. If they become mixed together, one result can be cancer or other abnormalities. Their research provides insight into a way these important structures may be protected during DNA repair.