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J Mol Biol. 1992 Feb 5;223(3):617-26.

Base alterations in yeast induced by alkylating agents with differing Swain-Scott substrate constants.

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Department of Genetics, University of Alberta Edmonton, Canada.


The base alterations induced by four alkylating agents, methyl methanesulfonate (MMS), ethyl methanesulfonate (EMS), N-nitroso-N-methylurea (MNU), and N-nitroso-N-ethylurea (ENU), have been determined at the URA3 locus in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The mutagen treatment was carried out on yeast cells in the logarithmic phase of growth. The mutants were selected by their resistance to 7.3 mM-5-fluoroorotic acid at pH 3.8. DNA sequence analysis was carried out by the dideoxy chain termination method. The alkylating agents were selected for their widely differing Swain-Scott substrate constants (s values), which are as follows: MMS, s = 0.83; EMS, s = 0.67; MNU, s = 0.42; ENU, s = 0.26. A higher s value is correlated with a higher ratio of 7-alkylguanine to O6-alkylguanine in native DNA in vitro. 125 forward mutations from URA3----ura3 were sequenced with marked differences in the mutational spectra being observed as the s value changed. Five hotspots were recorded for the four alkylating agents. They were all G.C----A.T transition mutations. There was one common hotspot for all of them; there were two additional ones for the two ethylating agents (ENU and EMS) and two different ones for MNU. Four of the five hotspots have the 5'-GG-3' sequence with the 3'-guanine mutated. It was seen that MMS, which has the highest Swain-Scott substrate constant, yielded the widest array of mutational types. As the substrate constants decreased, the types of mutations became more and more restricted to the G.C----A.T transitions and the A.T----T.A transversions. The transitions are consistent with the concept that mutations arise from O6-alkylation of guanine and alkylation of thymine. The transversions are consistent with the notion of N1-alkylation of adenosine or adenylic acid.

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