The bacterial tryptophan reverse mutation assay with Escherichia coli WP2

Mutat Res. 2000 Nov 20;455(1-2):61-9. doi: 10.1016/s0027-5107(00)00076-2.


The Escherichia coli WP2 tryptophan reverse mutation assay detects trp(-) to trp(+) reversion at a site blocking a step in the biosynthesis of tryptophan prior to the formation of anthranilic acid. The different WP2 strains all carry the same AT base pair at the critical mutation site within the trpE gene. The assay is currently used by many laboratories in conjunction with the Ames Salmonella assay for screening chemicals for mutagenic activity. In general the WP2 strains are used as a substitute for, or as an addition to Salmonella strain TA102 which also carries an AT base pair at the mutation site. The assay is also recommended together with the Ames assay for data submission to regulatory agencies. National and international guidelines have been established for performing these mutagenicity assays. The E. coli WP2 assay procedures are the same as those described elsewhere in this volume for the Ames Salmonella assay (Mortelmans and Zeiger, 2000) with the exception that limited tryptophan instead of limited histidine is used. This chapter is an addendum to the previous chapter and the reader should refer to the previous chapter for details regarding experimental procedures and assay design.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Escherichia coli / drug effects*
  • Mutagenicity Tests / methods*
  • Mutagens / toxicity*
  • Tryptophan / metabolism*


  • Mutagens
  • Tryptophan