Year of Publication


Document Type



Graduate School



First Advisor

Todd D. Portor


Although dialkylnitrosamines are environmentally significant carcinogens, the use of short-term bioassays to assess the mutagenic potential of these compounds remains problematic. The Ames test, a mutagenicity assay based on the reversion of Salmonella typhimurium histidine auxotrophs, is the most widely used bioassay in genetic toxicology, but the traditional Ames tester strains are largely insensitive to dialkylnitrosamine mutagenicity. I have constructed several mutagenicity tester strains that co-express combinations of full-length human cytochrome P450 2E1, rat cytochrome P450 reductase, and human cytochrome b5 in S. typhimurium lacking ogt and ada methyltransferases (YG7104ER, ogt-; and YG7108ER, ogt-, ada-). These new strains are susceptible to dialkylnitrosamine mutagenicity in the absence of an exogenous metabolic activating system (S9 fraction). Mutagenicity is dependent upon the coexpression of P450 2E1 with P450 reductase and is similar or greater than that obtained with the parental strains in the presence of S9 fraction from ethanol-induced rat liver. Coexpressing human cytochrome b5 with cytochrome P450 2E1 and cytochrome P450 reductase potentiates the mutagenicity observed with dialkylnitrosamines. These strains were sensitive to nitrosamines with varying alkyl side chains, including dimethylnitrosamine, diethylnitrosamine, dipropylnitrosamine, and dibutylnitrosamine. Mutagenicity decreased with alkyl chain length, consistent with the stringency of the ada-encoded enzyme for methyl and ethyl DNA adducts. These new strains may prove useful in the evaluation of nitrosamine contamination of food and environmental samples, and may serve as useful tools in investigating the molecular properties of proteins in the cytochrome P450 monooxygenase system.