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Bushong: Radiologic Science for Technologists, 10th Edition

Chapter 31: Molecular Radiobiology

Answers to Challenge Questions

1. a. In vitro - Outside the body or outside the cell.

b. Cytogenetic damage - Radiation-induced structural change in
c. Point mutation - Radiation damage that consists of a molecular lesion of
the DNA and causes genetic mutation.
d. Free radical - A short-lived, highly reactive, uncharged molecule
containing a single unpaired electron in the outermost shell.
e. Target theory - The radiobiologic theory that says for a cell to die, after
radiation exposure, its target molecule must be inactivated.
f. Viscosity - The viscosity of a solution determines the degree of main chain
g. Crosslinking - Some macromolecules have side structures that behave as
though they have a sticky substance on their ends, and they attach to another
macromolecule or to another segment of the same molecule.
h. Radiation hit - Occurs when a radiation interaction occurs with the target.
i. Catabolism - is the process that creates energy for a cell by breaking down
molecular nutrients that are brought to and diffused through the cell membrane.
j. Stochastic effect - describes the probability or frequency of the biologic
response to radiation as a function of radiation dose. Disease incidence increases
proportionally with dose, and there is no dose threshold.
2. List the effects of irradiation of macromolecules in solution in vitro.
Main chain scission, cross-linking, point mutations, change in viscosity.
3. How is solution viscosity used to determine the degree of radiation
macromolecular damage?
Viscosity of the solution increases after a high dose of radiation of macromolecules.
It is a measure of the degree of main-chain scission of macromolecules.
4. What is the difference between catabolism and anabolism?
Catabolism is the breakup of large molecules into smaller molecules. Anabolism is
the construction of large molecules from smaller molecules.
5. In what phase of the cell cycle does the DNA ladder open up in the middle of
each rung and consist of only a single chain?
Synthesis (S) phase.
6. Name the three principal observable effects of DNA irradiation.
Cell death, malignant disease, and genetic damage.
7. Differentiate among transcription, transfer, and translation when applied to
molecular genetics.

Copyright © 2013 by Mosby, an imprint of Elsevier Inc.

Answers to Challenge Questions 31-2

The genetic code of DNA is transcribed by messenger RNA (mRNA). It is then

transferred to transfer RNA (tRNA) which translates it into a protein.
8. Draw a diagram that illustrates the point mutations of DNA that transfer the
incorrect genetic code to one of the two daughter cells.
Refer to Figure 31-7.
9. Write the formula for radiolysis of water in which the atom of water is ionized
and dissociates into two ions.
H2O + energy in the form of radiation HOH+ + e−.
10. What happens to radiation-induced free radicals within
the cell?
They migrate within the cell, transferring energy to target molecules, and ultimately
join with another molecule to be neutralized.
11. Describe the molecular cause of a deterministic effect.
That each cell contains a target site(s) on a target molecule, which must be hit in
order to cause cell death. That is a deterministic effect.
12. What happens to the quantity of DNA as the cell progresses from G1 and
Parent DNA is replicated into two duplicate daughter molecules. The number of
DNA molecules doubles.
13. Chromosome aberrations are an example of what
type of cell damage?
Chromosome aberrations are examples of cytogenetic damage.
14. When a single nucleotide base is lost, what
happens? When a single nucleotide base is lost, the triplet code is destroyed. This
is called a point mutation.
15. Complete the following chemical equations:
H Radiation 20+ →?
H0H dissociation + → ( ) ?
H0H dissociation − → ( ) ?

H2O + Radiation = HOH+ + e–.

HOH+ (Dissociation) = H+ + OH*.
HOH– (Dissociation) = OH− + H*.
16. . What molecular change results in a stochastic
Damage to the DNA that results in abnormal metabolic activity is the principal cause
of stochastic effects.
17. Describe the characteristics of a free radical.
Free radicals are highly reactive and unstable. They carry excess energy that can be
transferred to other molecules to disrupt bonds and produce point lesions at some
distance from the original ionizing event.
18. What is the difference between direct effect and
indirect effect?
A direct effect exists when the ionizing radiation interacts directly with the target
molecule DNA. An indirect effect occurs when the interaction is with some other

Copyright © 2013 by Mosby, an imprint of Elsevier Inc.

Answers to Challenge Questions 31-3

molecule, resulting in the formation of free radicals, which then transfer this excess
energy to the DNA.
19. How much DNA is in a cell?
The DNA molecule is not found in abundance in the cell. In fact, there may be only
one such molecule in the cell.
20. Discuss the difference in radiation
responses in vivo compared with in vitro.
When biologic material is irradiated in vivo, the harmful effect is the damage to the
DNA. The direct effect is demonstrated in vitro. Because the human body is 80%
water, it is safe to assume that most radiation damage in vivo is from indirect effects.

Copyright © 2013 by Mosby, an imprint of Elsevier Inc.