Antimutagens and their Modes of Action

  • Tsuneo Kada
  • Tadashi Inoue
  • Toshihiro Ohta
  • Yasuhiko Shirasu
Part of the Basic Life Sciences book series (BLSC, volume 39)


Agents suppressing cellular mutagenesis have been known for some time, and their modes of action have been analyzed in the field of bacterial genetics (8, 49). More recently, a number of mutagens have been detected in our environment and their genotoxicities recognized (45). Therefore, it is necessary to have knowledge about antimutagens and their modes of action in order to assess the genotoxic nature of our environment. Crow (9) considers that keeping a low mutation rate in germ cells is important to mankind. For the past several years, we have focused our attention on factors that suppress cellular mutagenesis (19, 22). The word antimutagen has an old origin and has been adopted for factors that reduce the rates of spontaneous and induced mutagenesis by different modes of action. We recently pro-posed a distinction among categories of antimutagens (20, 22) (Fig. 1) as follows:
  1. (a)

    Desmutagens: The frequency of induced mutations will be reduced if mutagens are inactivated by desmutagens in vitro before reaching the cells. There also exist factors that inhibit metabolic activation of chemicals or formation of active forms of mutagens from precursors. “Desmutagens” refers to agents that cause chemical or biochemical modifications of mutagens outside cells (Fig. 2).

  2. (b)

    Bioantimutagens: Factors that interfere with cellular functions which produce genetically stable informative genes from primary damage to DNA should be distinguished from desmutagens and named “bioantimutagens.” Since the word “antimutagens” can be used for factors that reduce the apparent frequencies of mutations, including “desmutagens,” the term bioantimutagens is more specific to those factors that are biologically active (29).



Ellagic Acid Sorbic Acid recA Protein Antimutagenic Effect Environmental Mutagen 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tsuneo Kada
    • 1
  • Tadashi Inoue
    • 1
  • Toshihiro Ohta
    • 2
  • Yasuhiko Shirasu
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Molecular GeneticsNational Institute of GeneticsMishima, Shizuoka-ken 411Japan
  2. 2.Institute of Environmental ToxicologyKodaira, Tokyo 187Japan

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