Do we have areas of our bodies with different genes owing to mutation?

06 September 2016

Question

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?

Thanks,
Angelo Odato

Answer

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 that's from the processes of life like copying DNA or from the oxygen that we're 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 that's when cells have picked up a number of mistakes that have made them start growing out of control.

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