Everyone is a mutant, experts say

By | September 4, 2009

Everyone is a mutant, experts sayA new study shows that each of us has throughout our DNA up to 200 new (mostly harmless) mutations.

Detailed in the journal Current Biology, an international team of scientist’s advanced method of DNA sequencing produced an estimate of the background rate of genetic mutation of human DNA

“The amount of data we generated was unimaginable just a few years ago,” said study lead author, Yali Xue from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge, England. “But finding the tiny number of mutations was more difficult than finding an ant’s egg in the emperor’s rice store.” … The researchers compared a stretch of 10 million base pairs in the DNA of two Chinese men from the same village, whom records suggested were separated by 13 generations. They found only four new mutations. From this they were able to extrapolate up to the whole genome and estimate how many of these mutations came from each generation. What they found suggests that each of has around 100 to 200 new mutations, which are tiny errors in the language of our DNA, that our parents did not have. The results are remarkably similar to an estimate made in the 1930s by British geneticist JBS Haldane, who used data on male haemophiliacs to estimate that each of us has 150 new mutations. …

“These four mutations gave us the exact mutation rate – one in 30 million nucleotides each generation – that we had expected,” said co-author Chris Tyler-Smith, also from The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. … the findings may lead to new treatments for genetic diseases and offer new insight into the process of evolution.

via Everyone is a mutant, experts say | COSMOS magazine.

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