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Gene. 1992 Aug 1;117(1):1-5.

A signature element distinguishes sibling and independent mutations in a shuttle vector plasmid.

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Laboratory of Molecular Carcinogenesis, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD 20892.


We have developed a new shuttle vector plasmid for studying mutagenesis in mammalian cells that permits proof of independence of identical mutations. Mutations occur more frequently at some sites in a gene than in others, and in a collection of mutant plasmids from a single transfection of mammalian cells the same mutation may appear several times. However, those arising from independent events cannot be distinguished from siblings of an initial event. The new vector system (pSP189) is a population of plasmids, each of which contains an 8-bp 'signature sequence'. This sequence confers a unique identification tag to each plasmid and allows individual members to be identified by a distinctive signature. The plasmid also carries the Escherichia coli bacterial supF gene as a marker for mutagenesis, as well as sequences which support replication in primate (including human) cells and E. coli. We have used the pSP189 system to generate a UV-induced spectrum of mutations in supF following replication in a single plate of human DNA-repair-deficient cells (xeroderma pigmentosum, complementation group A). With the signature sequence, we were able to determine whether identical mutations derived from the transfection were of independent or sibling origin. There were eight identical mutations at the strongest hotspot, all of which had different signature sequences. Only one of these events would have been reported in previous experiments. This plasmid reduces the effort required to generate a spectrum of mutations caused by a DNA-damaging agent and allows a more accurate assessment of mutational hotspot intensity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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