Characterization and implementation of a miniature X-ray system for live cell microscopy

Surendra Prajapati, Maëlle Locatelli, Caleb Sawyer, Julia Holmes, Keith Bonin, Paul Black, Pierre Alexandre Vidi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The study of radiation effects on biological tissues is a diverse field of research with direct applications to improve human health, in particular in the contexts of radiation therapy and space exploration. Understanding the DNA damage response following radiation exposure, which is a key determinant for mutagenesis, requires reproducible methods for delivering known doses of ionizing radiation (IR) in a controlled environment. Multiple IR sources, including research X-ray and gamma-ray irradiators are routinely used in basic and translational research with cell and animal models. These systems are however not ideal when a high temporal resolution is needed, for example to study early DNA damage responses with live cell microscopy. Here, we characterize the dose rate and beam properties of a commercial, miniature, affordable, and versatile X-ray source (Mini-X). We describe how to use Mini-X on the stage of a fluorescence microscope to deliver high IR dose rates (up to 29 Gy/min) or lower dose rates (≤ 0.1 Gy/min) in live cell imaging experiments. This article provides a blueprint for radiation biology applications with high temporal resolution, with a step-by-step guide to implement a miniature X-ray system on an imaging platform, and the information needed to characterize the system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number111772
JournalMutation Research - Fundamental and Molecular Mechanisms of Mutagenesis
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022


  • DNA damage response
  • Live imaging
  • Portable X-ray tube
  • Radiation effects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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