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Environ Mol Mutagen. 2004;44(2):119-27.

Spontaneous mutant frequency and mutation spectrum for gene A of phiX174 grown in E. coli.

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Division of Genetic and Reproductive Toxicology, National Center for Toxicological Research, Jefferson, Arkansas 72079, USA.


The use of transgenic targets for measuring mutant frequencies in mammalian tissue requires an estimate of the mutant frequency that results from recovery of the transgene in bacterial recovery systems. In this study, we have determined the spontaneous mutant frequency, estimated the mutation rate, and ascertained the mutation spectrum for gene A of phiX174 grown in E. coli strain CQ2 from 156 small independent cultures. The mutant frequency of 12 of the 156 cultures was 17 +/- 1.0 x 10(-6) and the estimated mutation rate per gene replication was 7.4 +/- 2.3 x 10(-6). The mutant frequency and spectrum from E. coli were not significantly different from that of solvent-treated embryonic mouse cells in culture, 19 +/- 0.5 x 10(-6) (Valentine CR et al. [2002]: Environ Mol Mutagen 39:55-68), indicating that those spontaneous mutants were primarily derived from E. coli. The E. coli spectrum was heavily weighted toward two major target sites (hot spots), 4225A-->G (56%) and 4218G-->A or C (20%). Four new target sites and one new mutational event were recovered by the gene A forward assay. A mutant spectrum from an expanded phage stock was also determined to assess the effects of propagating the virus. This mutant frequency was higher (6 x 10(-4)), contained more double mutants (15% compared to 0.6%), and had a significantly different spectrum from the spectrum for independent cultures (fewer A:T-->G:C and G:C-->C:G changes and more G:C-->A:T; P < 0.002). The E. coli mutation spectrum will be useful for determining the origin of gene A mutation in tissues of phiX174 transgenic mice.

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