- Something capable of causing a gene-change. Among the known mutagens are radiation, certain chemicals and some viruses.
* * *Any agent that promotes a mutation or causes an increase in the rate of mutational events, e.g., radioactive substances, x-rays, or certain chemicals. [L. muto, to change, + G. -gen, producing]- frame-shift m. a m., such as an acridine derivative, that causes a reading-frame-shift mutation; codons (base triplets) are read out of phase and different amino acid s are utilized.
* * *mu·ta·gen 'myüt-ə-jən n a substance (as a chemical or various radiations) that tends to increase the frequency or extent of mutation
* * *n.an external agent that, when applied to cells or organisms, can increase the rate of mutation. Mutagens usually only increase the number of mutants formed and do not cause mutations not found under natural conditions. Several kinds of radiation, many chemicals, and certain viruses can act as mutagens. Compare antimutagen.
* * *mu·ta·gen (muґtə-jən) [mutation + genesis] a chemical or physical agent that induces or increases genetic mutations above the spontaneous background level.
Medical dictionary. 2011.