All of us have heard the term ‘mutation’ a lot since the outbreak of coronavirus. Now there are different variants of coronavirus formed by mutation. You must be thinking about what mutation is! In simple words, the mutation is a change in a DNA sequence. Let us understand mutation in detail, what is mutation, its causes and types.  

What is mutation?
Any change in the usual DNA sequence of a living being is known as mutation. There is a definite set of genetic codes which are passed on from generation to generation. Mutation occurs when the DNA sequence is either damaged or changed due to the mistakes of the genetic message which is copied. It can also be caused by environmental factors such as cigarette smoke, sunlight, or even exposure to harmful radiations.
A Mutagen is a substance that makes the genetic message change by permanent alteration to the DNA gene. Once this alteration happens, the gene will then carry the altered messages.

Causes of Mutation
Some of the common causes of Mutations are as follows:
●    Radiation: The atoms in water molecules surrounding the DNA absorb the high-energy radiation from radioactive material or even from the X-rays. The energy is then transferred to the electrons. By this transfer, it gets free for the atom and what remains is a free radical which is highly dangerous. This in return alters the DNA molecules in many ways.

●    Sunlight: As we know sunlight contains ultraviolet radiations which cause suntan to our body. The DNA absorbs these radiations and causes a cross-link to form between certain adjacent bases. When the human skin is exposed to these UV rays, it can cause serious damage which may lead to skin tumors or even cancers.
Spontaneous Mutation occurs even without any of these mutagenic agents. Sometimes the DNA nucleotides move suddenly to a different chemical form. This in turn will create a different series of hydrogen bonds with its base pair.

Types of Mutations
One of the widely used classifications of mutation is as follows:
●    Point mutations are the smallest ones in which only a single base pair is changed into another base pair.
●    Non-synonymous mutations are the ones in which the amino acid sequence is changed. In such mutations, there will be a production of a different protein or the premature ending of a protein.
●    Synonymous mutations do not alter the sequence of amino acids. They occur in sequences that code for amino acids.

Synonymous mutations exist by the amino acids which are encoded by multiple codons. Due to some past reasons, all of these mutations are included in synonymous mutations which comes under the label of silent mutations.
Not all mutations are harmful, but some of them can be. A mutation is said to be dangerous if it results in cancerous cells or any genetic disorder. In viruses, the mutation is important to survive in their surroundings. They conquer our immune system, vaccines, and treatments, by mutating.

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What is Mutation?

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