The mutagenic actions of many chemicals depend on the activities of bacterial "mutagenesis proteins", which allow replicative bypass of DNA lesions. Genes encoding these proteins occur on bacterial chromosomes and plasmids, often in the form of an operon (such as umuDC or mucAB) encoding two proteins. Many bacterial strains used in mutagenicity testing carry mutagenesis protein genes borne on plasmids, such as pKM101. Our objective was to introduce mutagenesis protein function into Escherichia coli strain DJ4309. This strain expresses recombinant human cytochrome P450 1A2 and NADPH-P450 reductase and carries out the metabolic conversion of aromatic and heterocyclic amines into DNA-reactive mutagens. We discovered that many mutagenesis-protein plasmids severely inhibit the response of strain DJ4309 to 2-amino-3,4-dimethylimid-azo[4,5-f]quinoline (MeIQ), a typical heterocyclic amine mutagen. Among many plasmids examined, one, pGY8294, a pSC101 derivative carrying the umuDC operon, did not inhibit MeIQ mutagenesis. Strain DJ4309 pGY8294 expresses active mutagenesis proteins, as shown by its response to mutagens such as 1-nitropyrene and 4-nitroquinoline 1-oxide (4-NQO), and is as sensitive as the parent strain DJ4309 to P450-dependent mutagens, such as MeIQ and 1-aminopyrene.