Relationships between mutation and transformation frequencies in mammalian cells treated "in vitro" with chemical carcinogens

Mutat Res. 1977;47(1):53-74. doi: 10.1016/0165-1110(77)90017-3.


An analytical quantitative comparison of data from the literature about frequencies of mutations and transformations induced by mutagenic-carcinogenic compounds in mammalian cells was carried out without any selection of unfitting data. The analysis was performed for equitoxic doses and background level. Data on transformation frequency came from 105 experiments performed with 34 carcinogenic compounds: those on mutation frequency came from 66 experiments performed with 26 mutagenic compounds; 7 compounds were assayed for both these activities. The difference in frequency between structural mutations and transformations was about 10(2)-10(3) and it appears statistically extremely significant. These results seem to indicate an absolute difference between structural mutations and transformations. In the framework of other observations it is suggested that structural alterations in a single gene are perhaps only a component of the steps present in the oncogenetic process. We may regard as "epigenetic" type phenomena the other steps involved in this process.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carcinogens / pharmacology*
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Gene Frequency
  • Humans
  • Mathematics
  • Mutagens / pharmacology
  • Mutation*


  • Carcinogens
  • Mutagens