Induction of Prophage Lambda by Chlorinated Organics: Detection of Some single-species/single-site Carcinogens

Environ Mol Mutagen. 1992;19(2):98-111. doi: 10.1002/em.2850190204.


Twenty-eight chlorinated organic compounds were evaluated for their ability to induce DNA damage using the Microscreen prophage-induction assay in Escherichia coli. Comparison of the performance characteristics of the prophage-induction and Salmonella assays to rodent carcinogenicity assays showed that the prophage-induction assay had a somewhat higher specificity than did the Salmonella assay (70% vs. 50%); sensitivity, concordance, and positive and negative predictivity were similar for the two microbial assays. The Microscreen prophage-induction assay failed to detect eight carcinogens, perhaps due to toxicity or other unknown factors; five of these eight carcinogens were detected by the Salmonella assay. However, the prophage-induction assay did detect six carcinogens that were not detected by the Salmonella assay, and five of these were single-species, single-site carcinogens, mostly mouse liver carcinogens. Some of these carcinogens, such as the chloroethanes, produce free radicals, which may be the basis for their carcinogenicity and ability to induce prophage. The prophage-induction (or other SOS) assay may be useful in identifying some genotoxic chlorinated carcinogens that induce DNA damage that does not revert the standard Salmonella tester strains.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteriophage lambda / drug effects*
  • Bacteriophage lambda / genetics
  • Bacteriophage lambda / growth & development
  • Carcinogens*
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated / toxicity*
  • Male
  • Mutagenicity Tests
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Species Specificity
  • Viral Plaque Assay
  • Virus Activation / drug effects*


  • Carcinogens
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated