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The multicopy plasmid pSK1002, a fusion product of genes of the umu operon (which was derived from E. coli K12 AB1157) with the vector pMC1403 (a pBR322 derivative), carries a umuC'-lacZ gene fusion product. The umu operon is regulated by the SOS genes recA (protease) and lexA (repressor) and consists of a promoter, operator, umuD and umuC genes. The vector carries the lacZ and lacY genes, the ampicillin resistance gene and ori. The strain TA1535 (AMES test strain) is uvrB (deficient in excision repair), rfa (incomplete cell wall causing good permeability) and does not possess a chromosomal lacZ gene. pSK1002 makes the strain selectable, and the umuC gene product (UmuC protein) functions as a mutator protein. The umu test is a short-term genotoxicity assay for the detection of mutagenic potentials of chemicals etc.