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Mutat Res. 1996 Aug 12;369(3-4):195-208.

The Salmonella sulA-test: a new in vitro system to detect genotoxins.

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  • 1Laboratoire de Biogénotoxicologie et Mutagénèse Environnementale (EA 1784), Faculté de Pharmacie, Marseille, France.


The Salmonella sulA-test is a newly developed colorimetric assay to detect genotoxins. This technique is based on the ability of DNA-damaging agents to induce the sulA gene, one of the SOS response genes. A constructed plasmid, pEM1968, carrying a fused sulA'::'lacZ was introduced into Salmonella typhimurium TA1538. Monitoring sulA gene expression was performed by assaying the beta-galactosidase activity in the transformed strain S. typhimurium TA1538/pEM1968. A simple, fast and sensitive liquid incubation procedure has been developed after optimization of the S9 mix composition and beta-galactosidase assay. The SOS-inducing potency (SOSIP, microM-1) was defined as the slopes of the non-linear dose-response relationships. Twenty-one chemicals with different modes of action were examined for a preliminary evaluation of the test. Nineteen chemicals were genotoxic in the Salmonella sulA-test. The SOSIP ranged from 1.2 x 10(-4) microM-1 (ethyl methanesulfonate) to 419.9 microM-1 (bleomycin). Sodium azide and 5-fluorouracil were not genotoxic. Frameshift, base-pair and oxidative genotoxins were detected by the tester strain. The calculated SOSIP and the minimum concentrations detected (MCD) in the Salmonella sulA-test were compared to the reported values obtained with two similar assays: the SOS Chromotest and umu-test. The SOSIP values of 12 compounds were the highest in this new assay. Five chemicals tested in the Salmonella sulA-test gave similar SOSIP values with those of one of the two other tests. ICR-191 had the highest SOSIP with the SOS Chromotest and 3-methylchloranthrene showed the highest SOSIP with the umu-test. Similarly, the lowest MCD values were found for 12 compounds in the Salmonella sulA-test. Four compounds had close MCD values in this assay and one of the two other techniques. The SOS Chromotest remained the most sensitive assay for cisplatin and ICR 191. The umu-test was the technique of choice for 3-methylchloranthrene.

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