A mutation is a permanent change in the DNA sequence of a gene. Genetic mutations are those that are passed on from a parent to a child and through families or are acquired during a person’s lifetime. If it is a hereditary mutation the damage to the cell in the parent is passed on through their DNA to their child. In some cases this causes illness and disease, in other cases it is not harmful at all. Acquired genetic mutation can be caused by a number of different factors such as radiation, sunlight, viruses, transposons and mutagenic chemicals.
How do the Mutations Occur?
A genetic mutation occurs when the DNA sequence of a gene is altered permanently. This can cause the cell to act differently than it is suppose to. As the cell divides and creates new cells each of these cells now has the error. Hereditary mutations occur when there is an alteration in the cells that produce the egg or the sperm. These alterations are called germline mutations and can be passed from parent to child. If the germline mutation is inherited every cell in their child’s body will have the same error in the DNA sequence. That is how hereditary disease and illness are passed on.
Other genetic mutations occur due to damage caused to the DNA sequences by lifestyle or environmental factors. Our cells have built in mechanisms that catch and repair most of the changes that occur during DNA replication or from environmental damage. As we age, however, our DNA repair does not work as effectively and we accumulate changes in our DNA.