Using the polymerase chain reaction to estimate mutation frequencies and rates in human cells

Gino A Cortopassi, Norman Arnheim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Scopus citations


The Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) has had a significant impact on molecular studies of human mutagenesis, mainly in the acceleration of molecular characterisation of mutant genes in cells isolated by a phenotypic selection. PCR can also be used to study genetic alterations in cells which have not undergone phenotypic selection. By modifying the standard PCR parameters, the presence of mutations can be assayed in single human cells, creating the potential to determine mutation rates in gametes on a cell-by-cell basis (Section I). Alternatively, PCR can be used to selectively amplify a mutant gene in a pool of normal genomes and thus determine a mutation frequency (Section II). Current applications of these two approaches are summarised and critically reviewed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)239-249
Number of pages11
JournalMutation Research/Reviews in Genetic Toxicology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1992
Externally publishedYes



  • Germinal mutation frequency
  • PCR
  • Polymerase chain reaction
  • Single cell analysis
  • Somatic mutation frequency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Toxicology

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