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Mutat Res. 2001 Feb 20;473(2):219-28.

Different characteristics distinguish early versus late arising adaptive mutations in Escherichia coli FC40.

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Georgia Institute of Technology, School of Biology, Atlanta, GA 30332, USA.


The Escherichia coli strain FC40 has frequently been employed to investigate the mechanism of adaptive mutations. The strain cannot utilize lactose due to a +1 frameshift mutation that reduces beta-galactosidase to about 1% of normal levels. Cells undergo a high rate of mutation from Lac- to Lac+ when cells are grown with lactose as the sole energy source. Almost all Lac+ colonies arising 3-6 days after plating result from a base pair deletion in runs of iterated base pairs within a 130-bp target region. In this study we characterized Lac+ colonies arising 3-10 days after plating. Temperature gradient gel electrophoresis (TGGE) was used to detect mutations in the target region as a function of the day a colony appears. TGGE results confirmed the occurrence of mutations within the target region in 36 of 37 FC40 Lac+ colonies arising on days 3-7. However, mutations in this region were not detected in 23 of 37 Lac+ colonies arising from days 8-10. Sequencing data verified the TGGE results. Half of the Lac+ mutants arising on days 8-10 with no base pair change in the target region were unstable and exhibited a Lac- phenotype after successive growth cycles in rich medium. The results suggest that amplification of the lac operon region is a common factor in late arising colonies, and that different characteristics distinguish early and late arising Lac+ colonies.

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