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Mutat Res. 1978 Jan;49(1):27-44.

Molecular dosimetry of the mutagen ethyl methanesulfonate in Drosophila melanogaster spermatozoa: linear relation of DNA alkylation per sperm cell (dose) to sex-linked recessive lethals.


The dosage-response curve for EMS was determined with dose measured as ethylations of DNA per sperm cell, and response measured as the relative frequency of sex-linked recessive lethals induced in sperm cells of Drosophila melanogaster. Dose can be converted to ethylations per nucleotide of DNA by dividing ethylations of DNA per sperm cell by 3 X 10(8) nucleotides per sperm cell. Adult males were exposed to equal amounts of either [3H]EMS for determining dose or nonlabeled EMS for determining mutational response. By feeding EMS for 24 h in a concentration of 25 mM, a high dose of 1.4 X 10(-2) ethylations per nucleotide was observed. With 1.4% of the nucleotides ethylated, 57% of the X-chromosomes were hemizygously viable; therefore, ethylation per se is not very efficient in inducing mutations. The relative frequency of mutations increased linearly with the dose from a dose of 2.1 X 10(-4) to 1.4 X 10(-2) ethylations per nucleotide. No threshold was apparent, and the statistical limits of the exponent, 1.0 +/- 0.1, excluded an exponent as high as 1.2. This linear relation suggests no change in mechanism of mutagenesis occurs from low to high dose in Drosophila. A nonlinear relation was found between exposure and dose; when exposure was increased by a factor of 250 (from 0.1 to 25 mM EMS in the feeding medium) dose was increased by a factor of only 68. By extrapolating down from our lowest dose of 2.1 X 10(-4) ethylations per nucleotide with an observed frequency of 0.55% +/- 0.08% sex-linked recessive lethals, we estimate the doubling dose for sex-linked recessive lethals to be 4 X 10(-5) ethylations per nucleotide.

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