The in vitro mammalian cell gene mutation test can be used to detect gene mutations induced by chemical substances. This TG includes two distinct in vitro mammalian gene mutation assays requiring two specific tk heterozygous cells lines: L5178Y tk+/-3.7.2C cells for the mouse lymphoma assay (MLA) and TK6 tk+/- cells for the TK6 assay. Genetic events detected using the tk locus include both gene mutations and chromosomal events.
Cells in suspension or monolayer culture are exposed to, at least four analysable concentrations of the test substance, both with and without metabolic activation, for a suitable period of time. They are subcultured to determine cytotoxicity and to allow phenotypic expression prior to mutant selection. Cytotoxicity is usually determined by measuring the relative cloning efficiency (survival) or relative total growth of the cultures after the treatment period. The treated cultures are maintained in growth medium for a sufficient period of time, characteristic of each selected locus and cell type, to allow near-optimal phenotypic expression of induced mutations. Mutant frequency is determined by seeding known numbers of cells in medium containing the selective agent to detect mutant cells, and in medium without selective agent to determine the cloning efficiency (viability). After a suitable incubation time, colonies are counted.