Single-strand breaks (ssb) in opposite strands of DNA can be sufficiently near that a double-strand break (dsb) results. A theory is presented by which the maximum number h of base pairs which cannot prevent double-strand breakage can be determined from the rates of production of ssb and dsb. The assumptions required to derive the necessary equations as well as the range of validity of the equations are discussed in detail. In the experiments ssb and dsb were produced by x-irradiation in buffers which do not eliminate indirect effects and were measured by analytical ultracentrifugation. Values of h have been determined in low and high ionic strength and in low ionic strength over a range of temperatures. The values, 2.64 and 15.8, were obtained for high and low ionic strength, respectively.
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