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Cell-based genotoxicity testing : genetically modified and genetically engineered bacteria in environmental genotoxicology


Cell-based genotoxicity testing : genetically modified and genetically engineered bacteria in environmental genotoxicology



Advances in Biochemical Engineering/Biotechnology 118: 85-111



ISSN/ISBN: 0724-6145

PMID: 19543703

DOI: 10.1007/10_2009_8

Genotoxicity test systems that are based on bacteria display an important role in the detection and assessment of DNA damaging chemicals. They belong to the basic line of test systems due to their easy realization, rapidness, broad applicability, high sensitivity and good reproducibility. Since the development of the Salmonella microsomal mutagenicity assay by Ames and coworkers in the early 1970s, significant development in bacterial genotoxicity assays was achieved and is still a subject matter of research. The basic principle of the mutagenicity assay is a reversion of a growth inhibited bacterial strain, e.g., due to auxotrophy, back to a fast growing phenotype (regain of prototrophy). Deeper knowledge of the -mutation events allows a mechanistic understanding of the induced DNA-damage by the utilization of base specific tester strains. Collections of such specific tester strains were extended by genetic engineering. Beside the reversion assays, test systems utilizing the bacterial SOS-response were invented. These methods are based on the fusion of various SOS-responsive promoters with a broad variety of reporter genes facilitating numerous methods of signal detection. A very important aspect of genotoxicity testing is the bioactivation of -xenobiotics to DNA-damaging compounds. Most widely used is the extracellular metabolic activation by making use of rodent liver homogenates. Again, genetic engineering allows the construction of highly sophisticated bacterial tester strains with significantly enhanced sensitivity due to overexpression of enzymes that are involved in the metabolism of xenobiotics. This provides mechanistic insights into the toxification and detoxification pathways of xenobiotics and helps explaining the chemical nature of hazardous substances in unknown mixtures. In summary, beginning with "natural" tester strains the rational design of bacteria led to highly specific and sensitive tools for a rapid, reliable and cost effective -genotoxicity testing that is of outstanding importance in the risk assessment of compounds (REACH) and in ecotoxicology.

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Accession: 051983358

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