Ionizing Radiation-Induced Attachment Reactions of Nucleic Acids and Their Components

  • Lawrence S. MyersJr.


This paper is concerned with reactions which are initiated by ionizing radiations (γ-rays, X-rays, etc.) and which result in the formation of new bonds involving nucleic acids or nucleic acid constituents. These reactions may differ from those initiated by near-UV radiation because identity of the substances affected by the radiation, the nature of the primary chemical species, and their distribution in the irradiated volume all differ. With ionizing radiations the amount of energy deposition in various molecules depends on their electron fraction, not their absorption spectra, and results in formation of significant yields of electrons separated from their parent molecules, cation radicals, and excited states ranging from the lowest excitation levels to superexcited states. These primary species are distributed along the path of each ionizing particle in small clusters in which the probability of interactions within the clusters is comparable to the probability of escape from the clusters. If escape occurs, reaction may occur at a considerable distance (1–100 nm) from the site of energy deposition. Many of the secondary and subsequent reactions started by the cation radicals and electrons involve free radicals similar to those frequently observed following absorption of near-UV radiation. There is thus a large overlap between ionizing and UV radiation chemistry in spite of the differences noted above, and the fields contribute to a large degree to one another.


Cation Radical Pulse Radiolysis Adduct Radical Hydrated Electron Radiation Biology 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lawrence S. MyersJr.
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory of Nuclear Medicine and Radiation Biology and the Department of Radiological SciencesUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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