The expression of terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase (TdT) in the thymus and bone marrow of irradiated mice has been examined. Mice given the leukemogenic regimen of irradiation of four weekly doses of 175 rads starting at 1 mo of age show a long-term elimination of TdT activity in the bone marrow and a reduction of TdT activity in thymocytes. In such mice, the reappearance of normal levels of TdT in the thymus appears to only be associated with the onset of overt leukemia. This effect on TdT expression was shown to be uniquely associated with the leukemogenic regimen of irradiation in that nonleukemogenic irradiation or variations such as bone marrow reconstitution or age which reduce leukemias did not show the same phenotypic effects on TdT expression. The basis for the loss of TdT-positive cells was shown not to be due to the lack of the requisite factors involved in differentiation, but rather to the ability of leukemogenic doses of irradiation to reduce or eliminate an inducible bone marrow stem cell. These results are discussed with respect to the possible mechanisms involved in radiation-induced leukemias in mice.

This content is only available as a PDF.