AAT Bioquest

How does ethidium bromide cause mutations?

Posted December 1, 2021


Ethidium bromide causes mutations by intercalating with DNA.

Ethidium bromide is a flat, planar molecule with a ring structure that resembles a DNA base pair. The unique structure of EtBr allows the molecule to insert itself or intercalate between stacked bases in double-stranded DNA. In doing so, it uncoils the DNA deforming its structure and interferes with DNA transcription, replication, recombination, and repair, causing different types of mutations.   

Additional resources

Mutation analysis of genetic diseases by asymmetric-PCR SSCP and ethidium bromide staining: application to neurofibromatosis and cystic fibrosis

ReadiLink™ iFluor™ 488 Nick Translation dsDNA Labeling Kit