Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

The correlation between mutation frequency and cell survival following different mutagenic treatments

  • 61 Accesses

  • 10 Citations


A direct mathematical relationship between mutation frequency per survivor and cell survival is derived from theoretical considerations of the molecular effects of radiation in a cell. It is shown that the relationship is satisfied by analysis of the various data on radiation induced mutations available in the literature. The analysis implies that a common type of lesion may lead to mutation and cell death and is derived on the assumption that radiation-induced double strand breaks in DNA are the critical lesions. The mathematical relationship is independent of the way in which the lesion which leads to mutations and cell death is induced, so the analysis has consequently been applied to other mutagenic treatments such as UV light and chemicals. It is concluded that, although the lesions induced by chemicals may not be the same as those induced by radiation, it is probable that for the chemicals considered common basic damage to the DNA molecule is implicated as the critical lesion.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Abbondandolo, A.; Bonatti, S.: The production, by nitrous acid, of complete and mosaic mutations during defined nuclear stages in cells of Schizosaccharomyces pombe. Mutation Res. 9, 59–69 (1970)

  2. Arlett, C.F.: The influence of the cytoplasm on mutation in Aspergillus nidulans. Mutation Res. 3, 410–419 (1966)

  3. Arlett, C.F.; Potter, J.: Mutation to 8-azoguanine resistance induced by x-radiation in a Chinese hamster cell line. Mutation Res. 13, 59–65 (1971)

  4. Bridges, B.A.: The three-tier approach to mutagenicity screening and the concept of radiation-equivalent dose. Mutation Res. 26, 335–340 (1974)

  5. Bridges, B.A.; Huckle, J.: Mutageness is of cultured mammalian cells by X-radiation and ultraviolet light. Mutation Res. 10, 141–151 (1970)

  6. Chadwick, K.H.; Leenhouts, H.P.: A molecular theory of cell survival. Phys. Med. Biol. 18, 78–87 (1973)

  7. Chadwick, K.H.; Leenhouts, H.P.: Chromosome aberrations and cell death. Proc. 4th Symposium on Microdosimetry, 585–605 (1974)

  8. Chu, E.H.Y.: Mammalian Cell Genetics. III. Characterization of X-ray-induced forward mutations in Chinese hamster cell cultures. Mutation Res. 11, 23–34 (1971)

  9. Doudney, C.O.: Photoreversal of ultraviolet light induced mutation, lethality and damage to nucleic acid formation in bacteria. Mutation Res. 3, 280–297 (1966)

  10. Eriksson, G.: Induction of waxy mutants in maize by acute and chronic gamma irradiation. Hereditas 50, 161–178 (1963)

  11. Guglielminetti, R.; Bonatti, S.; Loprieno, N.: The mutagenic activity of N-nitroso-N-methylurethane and N-nitroso-N-ethylurethane in Schizosaccharomyces pombe. Mutation Res. 3, 152–157 (1966)

  12. Hannan, M.A.: Radiation induced cell killing and mutation frequency in Schizosaccharomyces pombe. Association Euratom-ITAL, External Report No. 26 (1975)

  13. Kelly-Garvert, F.; Legator, M.S.: Photoactivation of chloropromazine: cytogenetic and mutagenic effects. Mutation Research 21, 101–105 (1973)

  14. Kilbey, B.J.: The analysis of a dose-rate effect found with a mutagenic chemical. Mutation Res. 26, 249–256 (1974)

  15. Kilbey, B.J.; Zetterberg, G.: A re-examination of the genetic effects of optical brighteners in yeast. Mutation Res. 21, 72–82 (1973)

  16. Leenhouts, H.P.; Chadwick, K.H.: Radiation induced DNA double strand breaks and chromosome aberrations. Theor. App. Gen. 44, 167–172 (1974a)

  17. Leenhouts, H.P.; Chadwick, K.H.: A theoretical analysis of radiation sensitivity in cells following neutron irradiation. In: Biological Effects of Neutron Irradiation, IAEA-SM-179 (Vienna) 151–163 (1974b)

  18. Malling, H.V.: Hydroxylamine as a mutagenic agent for Neupospora crassa. Mutation Res. 3, 470–476 (1966)

  19. Richold, M.; Holt, P.D.: The effect of different neutron energies on mutagenesis in cultured Chinese hamster cells. In: Biological Effects of Neutron Irradiation, IAEA-SM-179 (Vienna) 237–244 (1974)

  20. Roberts, J.J.; Sturrock, J.E.; Ward, K.N.: The enhancement by caffeine of alkylation-induced cell death, mutations and chromosomal aberrations in Chinese hamster cells, as a result of inhibition of post-replication DNA repair. Mutation Res. 26, 129–143 (1974)

  21. Setlow, R.B.; Setlow, J.K.: Effects of radiation on polynucleotides. In: Annual reviews of Biophysics and Bioengineering (eds. Morales, Hagins, Stryer and Yamamoto) Vol. 1, 293–346 (1972)

Download references

Author information

Additional information

Communicated by H.F. Linskens

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Chadwick, K.H., Leenhouts, H.P. The correlation between mutation frequency and cell survival following different mutagenic treatments. Theoret. Appl. Genetics 47, 5–8 (1976). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00277398

Download citation


  • Radiation
  • Cell Death
  • Cell Survival
  • Common Type
  • Strand Break