Absence of arsenite mutagenicity in E coli and Chinese hamster cells

Environ Mutagen. 1980;2(3):371-9. doi: 10.1002/em.2860020307.


Because exposure to compounds of arsenic has been implicated as a cause of cancer, an investigation of the mutagenicity of sodium aresenite in E coli and in Chinese hamster cells was performed. In the E coli system, Trp + revertants were not induced by arsenite in a variety of experimental protocols including spot tests, treat and plate protocols, and fluctuation tests. The mutator effect of a tif-1 strain was partially blocked by arsenite. Arsenite did not cause the induction of lambda prophage. In Chinese hamster cells, arsenite did not induce ouabain-resistant mutants or thioguanine-resistant mutants. We conclude that arsenite is not mutagenic to E coli or to Chinese hamster cells. When added to the plating medium, arsenite can act as an anti-mutagen by inhibition of induction of the error-prone SOS repair system in E coli.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arsenic / pharmacology*
  • Arsenites*
  • Bacteriophage lambda / growth & development
  • Cell Line*
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cricetinae
  • Cricetulus
  • DNA Repair / drug effects
  • Escherichia coli / drug effects
  • Escherichia coli / genetics*
  • Mutagenicity Tests
  • Mutation*
  • Sodium Compounds*
  • Virus Activation / drug effects


  • Arsenites
  • Sodium Compounds
  • sodium arsenite
  • Arsenic