PURPOSE: The genes involved on the suppression of radiation-induced apoptosis by genistein in K562 leukemia cell line was investigated. MATERIALS AND METHODS: K562 cells in exponential growth phase were irradiated with a linear accelerator at room temperature. Forx-ray irradiation and drug treatment, cultures were prepared at 2x105 cells/mL. The cells were irradiated with 10 Gy (Clinac 1800C, Varian, USA). Stock solutions of herbimycin A (HMA, Calbiochem, UK) and genistein (Calbiochem, UK) were prepared in dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO, Sigma, UK). After incubation at 37degreesC for 24 h, PCR-select cDNA subtractive hybridization, dot hybridization, DNA sequencing and Northern hybridization were examined. RESULTS: Smad6 gene was identified from the differentially expressed genes in K562 cells incubated with genistein which had been selected by PCR-select cDNA subtractive hybridization. The mRNA expression of Smad6 in K562 cells incubated with genistein was also higher than control group by Northern hybridization analysis. CONCLUSION: We have shown that Smad6 involved on the suppression of radiation-induced apoptosis by genistein in K562 leukemia cell line. It is plausible that the relationship between Smad6 and the suppression of radiation-induced apoptosis is essential for treatment development based on molecular targeting designed to modify radiation-induced apoptosis.