Yeast-based genotoxicity tests for assessing DNA alterations and DNA stress responses: a 40-year overview
By damaging DNA molecules, genotoxicants cause genetic mutations and also increase human susceptibility to cancers and genetic diseases. Over the past four decades, several assays have been developed in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae to screen potential genotoxic substances and provide alternatives to animal-based genotoxicity tests. These yeast-based genotoxicity tests are either DNA alteration-based or DNA stress-response reporter-based. The former, which came first, were developed from the genetic studies conducted on various types of DNA alterations in yeast cells. Despite their limited throughput capabilities, some of these tests have been used as short-term genotoxicity tests in addition to bacteria- or mammalian cell-based tests. In contrast, the latter tests are based on the emergent transcriptional induction of DNA repair-related genes via activation of the DNA damage checkpoint kinase cascade triggered by DNA damage. Some of these reporter assays have been linked to DNA damage-responsive promoters to assess chemical carcinogenicity and ecotoxicity in environmental samples. Yeast-mediated genotoxicity tests are being continuously improved by increasing the permeability of yeast cell walls, by the ectopic expression of mammalian cytochrome P450 systems, by the use of DNA repair-deficient host strains, and by integrating them into high-throughput formats or microfluidic devices. Notably, yeast-based reporter assays linked with the newer toxicogenomic approaches are becoming powerful short-term genotoxicity tests for large numbers of compounds. These tests can also be used to detect polluted environmental samples, and as effective screening tools during anticancer drug development.
KeywordsSaccharomyces cerevisiae Genotoxicity test DNA alteration Mutagen Anticancer drug Reporter assay
I thank Dr. Yuu Hirose and all members of my laboratory for their support and helpful discussions. I thank Drs. Sandra Cheesman and Shelley Robison from Edanz Group (www.edanzediting.com/ac) for editing drafts of this manuscript.
This work was supported in part by a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research in Innovative Areas “Plasma Medical Innovation” (24108005) from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), Japan (to T.E.).
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The author declares that there is no conflict of interest.
This article does not describe any studies with human participants or with animals that were performed by the author.
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