Autoradiographic detection of diphtheria toxin resistant mutants in human diploid fibroblasts
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An autoradiographic procedure for the detection of diphtheria toxin (DT) resistant (DipR) mutants in human diploid fibroblast (HDF) cells has been developed. The assay is based on the observation that when HDFs from confluent cultures are seeded in medium containing 0.01 flocculating units/ml or higher concentration of DT, protein synthesis in sensitive cells is severely inhibited by 4-6 hr. If at this or later time, a radiolabeled protein precursor (eg, 3H-leucine) is added to the culture, it is almost exclusively incorporated into the resistant cells, which are then readily identified by autoradiography. The DipR cells can also be identified by labeling in the presence of 3H-thymidine, although a higher background is observed in these experiments. Reconstruction experiments using DipS and DipR HDFs show that the frequency of heavily labeled cells that are detected by autoradiography show an excellent correlation with the number of DipR cells added and to the number of DipR cells as detected by conventional colony forming assay. These studies provide strong evidence that the labeled cells identified by autoradiography are bona fide DipR mutants. The detection of DipR cells by autoradiography is apparently not affected by the presence of the sensitive cells in the mixtures. The spontaneous frequency of DipR cells in HDFs has been found to be in the range of 1-5 X 10(-6), and this increases in a dose dependent manner upon treatment with the mutagen ethyl methanesulfonate. These results indicate that the autoradiographic assay could be used for quantitative mutagenesis. Since the autoradiographic assay does not depend on cell division, it may prove useful in estimating the incidence of pre-existing mutations in cell populations that either do not divide or have very limited growth potential (eg, lymphocytes, muscle cells, neurons, senescent fibroblasts, etc).
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