“Mutation is the change that occurs in our DNA sequence due to environmental factors such as UV light, or due to the mistakes caused when the DNA is copied.”
What is Mutation?
Our DNA can undergo changes in its base sequences A, C, G and T. This results in the changes in proteins that are synthesised by the DNA. Usually, the cells can recognize any damage that can be caused by mutation and repair it before it becomes permanent.
Mutation is of three types:
- Silent mutation
- Nonsense mutation
- Missense mutation
Mutations lead to genetic variations among species. Few mutations with a positive effect are transferred to successive generations. For eg., sickle cell anaemia is the result of a mutation in the gene that codes for the synthesis of the protein haemoglobin. The red blood cells take a sickle-shape. However, in the African population, this mutation also protects against malaria.
Cancer is the most common disease caused by the mutation in a number of growth controlling cells.
Let us have an overview of the causes and impacts of mutation.
Also Read: Gene Mutation and its Types
Causes of Mutation
The mutation is caused due to the following reasons:
Most of the mutations occur when the DNA fails to copy accurately. All these mutations lead to evolution. During cell division, the DNA makes a copy of its own. Sometimes, the copy of the DNA is not perfect and this slight difference from the original DNA is called mutation.
When the DNA is exposed to certain chemicals or radiations, it causes the DNA to break down. The ultraviolet radiations cause the thymine dimers to break resulting in a mutated DNA.
Effects of Mutation
There are several mutations that cannot be passed on to the offsprings. Such mutations occur in the somatic cells and are known as somatic mutations.
The germline mutations can be passed on to successive generations and occur in the reproductive cells.
Let us have a look at some of the effects of mutation:
Beneficial Effects of Mutation
- Few mutations result in new versions of proteins and help the organisms to adapt to changes in the environment. Such mutations lead to evolution.
- Mutations in many bacteria result in antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria that can survive in the presence of antibiotics.
- A unique mutation found in the population of Italy protects them from atherosclerosis, where fatty materials build up in the blood vessels.
Harmful Effects of Mutation
- Genetic disorders can be caused by the mutation of one or more genes. Cystic fibrosis is one such genetic disorder caused by the mutation in one or more genes.
- Cancer is another disease caused by the mutation in genes that regulate the cell cycle.
Also Read: Mutagens
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