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Transfected DNA Is Mutated In Monkey, Mouse, And Human Cells.

J S Lebkowski, R B DuBridge, E A Antell, K S Greisen, M P Calos

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Papovavirus-based shuttle vectors containing the bacterial lacI gene were used to show that a mutation frequency in the range of 1% occurs in lacI when such vectors are transfected into COS7 and CV-1 simian cells, NIH 3T3, 3T6, L, and C127 mouse cells, and human 293 and HeLa cells. This frequency is approximately four orders of magnitude higher than the spontaneous mutation frequency in either mammalian or bacterial cells. The mutations are predominantly base substitutions and deletions and also include insertions from the mammalian genome. Time course experiments argue that mutagenesis occurs soon after arrival of the DNA into the nucleus. However, replication of the vector is not required since mutations occur even when the vector lacks all viral sequences. The high mutation frequency appears to be the characteristic outcome of transfection of DNA into mammalian cells.