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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1989 Jul; 86(14): 5345–5349.
PMCID: PMC297618

A set of lacZ mutations in Escherichia coli that allow rapid detection of each of the six base substitutions.


We describe the construction of six strains of Escherichia coli with different mutations at the same coding position in the lacZ gene, which specifies the active site glutamic acid residue at position 461 in beta'-galactosidase. Each strain is Lac- and reverts to Lac+ only by restoring the glutamic acid codon. The strains have been designed so that each reverts via one of the six base substitutions. The set of strains allows detection of each transition and transversion simply by monitoring the Lac- to Lac+ frequency, as demonstrated here with characterized mutagens and mutator alleles. These strains are useful for rapidly determining the mutagenic specificity of mutagens at a single site, for detecting low levels of stimulation of certain base substitutions, for monitoring specific base changes in response to various experimental conditions or strain backgrounds, and for isolating new mutator strains.

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