Angelo Odato asked:
Our cells are dividing all the time ... billions of times. There must be many mutations during these divisions and some of these get propagated. Do we have areas of our bodies with different genetics?
Kat fills us in on this question about genetic mutations...
Kat - This is a fantastic question because the answer is kind of yes. We will pick up mistakes, changes, mutations whether thatís from the processes of life like copying DNA or from the oxygen that weíre using to make energy that damages DNA loads and loads, and loads. Also, there are chemicals in the environment and things like ultraviolet light, chemicals in tobacco smoke that can damage the DNA in different cells and that can be propagated if those cells divide. So yeah, we are made up of probably a little bigger or smaller clumps of cells that are all very, very slightly different. Obviously, a good example of where this really goes wrong is cancer because thatís when cells have picked up a number of mistakes that have made them start growing out of control.
Slightly. Occasionally the mutation gets really out of hand and that's (at least) one route to cancer. Bored chemist, Tue, 19th Jul 2016
As I understand it, microchimerism isn't unusual - most mothers have some of their babies cells still hanging around. dlorde, Tue, 19th Jul 2016
This is a very nice article about microchimerism by Dalya Rosner; one of the first guest articles we published on the Naked Scientists, but still extremely readable... chris, Tue, 19th Jul 2016
Another source of genetic variation in our bodies is due to mutations, which can come from the products of cell metabolism, natural radioactivity, chemicals in the environment, viruses and exposure to ultraviolet light from the Sun.