Repair synthesis induced by 4-nitroquinoline-1-oxide (4NQO) in L6 myoblasts before and after cellular fusion was measured by [3H] thymidine incorporation into unreplicated DNA. The level of repair synthesis was reuced after the cells had fused into myotubes. The terminal addition of radioactive nucleotides into DNA strands occurred only to a minor extent, and the dilution of [3H] thymidine by intracellular nucleotide pools was shown not to be responsible for the observed difference in repair synthesis, Both the initial rate and the overall incorporation of [3H] thymidine were found to be 50% lower in the myotubes. 4NQO treatment of myoblasts and myotubes induced modifications in the DNA which were observed as single-strand breaks during alkaline sucrose sedimentation. After the myoblasts were allowed a post-treatment incubation, most of the single-strand breaks were not longer apparent. In contrast, a post-treatment incubation of myotubes did not change the extent of single-strand breakage seen. Both myoblasts and myotubes were equally effective in repairing single-strand breaks induced by X radiation. It would appear that when myoblasts fuse, a repair enzyme activity is lost, probably an endonuclease that recognizes one of the 4 NQO modifications of DNA. The result observed is a partial loss of repair synthetic ability and a complete loss of ability to remove the modification that appears as a single-strand break in alkali.

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