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Mutat Res. 1985 Jun;147(3):79-95.

The SOS Chromotest, a colorimetric bacterial assay for genotoxins: validation study with 83 compounds.


The SOS Chromotest is a simple bacterial colorimetric assay for genotoxicity. It is based on the measure of the induction of sfiA, a gene controlled by the general repressor of the SOS system in E. coli. Expression of sfiA is monitored by means of a gene fusion with lacZ, the structural gene for beta-galactosidase. We have examined 83 compounds of various chemical classes with the SOS Chromotest using a standard procedure. Comparison of the results with those obtained in the Mutatest (the Ames test) showed that most (90%) of the mutagenic compounds were also SOS inducers. For these compounds a quantitative correlation was observed between the mutagenic potency and the SOS-inducing potency (SOSIP). The case of the 10% remaining compounds giving conflicting results in the two tests is discussed. Sensitivity, specificity and accuracy for carcinogenicity prediction have been evaluated for the SOS Chromotest and the Mutatest using 73 chemicals for which carcinogenicity data were available. In spite of some differences, similar results were obtained in the two tests. The present data indicate that the SOS Chromotest has many practical advantages and may be used as a primary screening tool or as part of a battery of short-term tests for carcinogens.

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