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Int J Radiat Biol. 1998 Dec;74(6):739-45.

EMS and UV-light-induced colony sectoring and delayed mutation in Chinese hamster cells.

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The Lankenau Medical Research Center, Wynnewood, PA 19096, USA.



To review studies of mutagen-induced colony sectoring which demonstrate that UV light and EMS produce delayed mutational events in Chinese hamster ovary cells.


Since the late 1940s, it has been known that the treatment of a single bacterial or yeast cell with mutagenic agents produces complete mutant colonies (pures) and colonies composed of both mutant and non-mutant cell types (mosaics) with various sectored patterns. A similar sectoring phenomenon has been observed in Chinese hamster ovary cells (CHO) using the DNA alkylating agent ethyl methane sulphonate (EMS) or ultraviolet light. However, unlike bacteria and yeast, a significant fraction of CHO mutant colonies contained sectors of less than 1/2; i.e. 1/4, 1/8 and 1/16 sectors, suggesting a delayed production of mutations. Using various colony-replating approaches, it was found that these mutagenic agents produced the ratio of mutant to wild-type cells expected for a delayed mutational process which produces mutant events for at least 12-14 cell divisions following treatment. This delayed mutation phenomenon was observed at both the glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) and hypoxanthine guanine phosphoribosyltransferase (HGPRT) loci. Various mutational mechanisms for the production of delayed mutations are discussed.


These studies suggest that mutagens such as UV light and EMS induce long-term alterations in mammalian cells that act to increase the 'apparent' spontaneous mutation frequency. This delayed mutational decrease in stability of the genome may explain the accumulation over time of the multiple genetic changes observed in malignant tumours.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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