Nontoxic concentrations of harman and norharman were tested in cultured Chinese hamster cells for their effects on DNA repair and mutagenesis. The following effects of harman were observed: (a) the survival of ultraviolet light- or X-ray-damaged cells was reduced; (b) the ultraviolet light-induced unscheduled DNA synthesis was slightly inhibited; and (c) the frequency of spontaneous or ultraviolet light-induced ouabain-resistant (ouar) or 6-thioguanine-resistant (6-TGr) mutations was reduced. Furthermore, the effect of harman on survival and mutagenesis was greater than that of norharman and was detected primarily in treatments in which cells were exposed to harman immediately following ultraviolet light irradiation. Our data clearly indicate that harman decreases the capacity to repair DNA damage and fix mutations in Chinese hamster cells, possibly because of the intercalation properties of this compound.

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