Identification of cadmium-induced mutations in a mammalian cell line

Caroline Akemi Heckman, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Epidemiological studies have shown cadmium to induce cancer in humans, while experimental studies have proven this metal to be a potent tumor inducer in animals. However, cadmium appears nonmutagenic in most prokaryotic and eukaryotic mutagenesis assays. In this study, we present the identification of mutations in normal rat kidney cells infected with the mutant MuSVts110 retrovirus (6m2 cells) as a result of treatment with cadmium chloride. The detection of these mutations was facilitated by the use of a novel mutagenesis assay established in this laboratory. The 6m2 reversion assay is a positive selection system based on the conditional expression of the MuSVts110 v-mos gene. In MuSVts110 the gag and mos genes are fused out of frame, thus the translation of the v-mos sequence requires a frameshift in the genomic RNA. In 6m2 cells this frameshift is accomplished by the temperature-dependent splicing of the primary MuSVts110 transcript. Splicing of MuSVts110, which is mediated by cis-acting sequences, occurs when 6m2 cells are grown at 33$\sp\circ$C and below, but not at 39$\sp\circ$C. Therefore, 6m2 cells appear transformed at low growth temperatures, but take on a morphologically normal appearance when grown at high temperatures. The treatment of 6m2 cells with cadmium chloride resulted in the outgrowth of a number of cells that reverted to the transformed state at high growth temperatures. Analysis of the viral proteins expressed in these cadmium-induced 6m2 revertants suggested that they contained mutations in their MuSVts110 DNA. Sequencing of the viral DNA from three revertants that constitutively expressed the P85$\sp{gag{-}mos}$ transforming protein revealed five different mutations. The Cd-B2 revertant contained three of those mutations: an A-to-G transition 48 bases downstream of the MuSVts110 3$\sp\prime$ splice site, plus a G-to-T and an A-to-T transversion 84 and 100 bases downstream of the 5$\sp\prime$ splice site, respectively. The Cd-15-5 revertant also contained a point mutation, a T-to-C transition 46 bases downstream of the 5$\sp\prime$ splice site, while Cd-10-5 contained a three base deletion of MuSVts110 11 bases upstream of the 3$\sp\prime$ splice site. A fourth revertant, Cd-10, expressed a P100$\sp{gag{-}mos}$ transforming protein, and was found to have a two base deletion. This deletion accomplished the frameshift necessary for v-mos expression, but did not alter MuSVts110 RNA splicing and the expression of p85$\sp{gag{-}mos}.$ Lastly, sequencing of the MuSVts110 DNA from three spontaneous revertants revealed the same G to T transversion in each one. This was the same mutation that was found in the Cd-B2 revertant. These findings provide the first example of mutations resulting from exposure to cadmium and suggest, by the difference in each mutation, the complexity of the mechanism utilized by cadmium to induce DNA damage.

Subject Area

Molecular biology|Cellular biology|Toxicology

Recommended Citation

Heckman, Caroline Akemi, "Identification of cadmium-induced mutations in a mammalian cell line" (1996). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9626092.