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Mitochondrial DNA mutations: The good, the bad, and the ugly

Posted January 14, 2015

Programmers typically evolve new code by copying and modifying existing code to meet new needs. With the more advanced programming languages, they also make use of something known in the business as polymorphism—the ability to process objects differently depending on their data type or class. Similarly, one way that life evolves is to copy and modify genes. Biologists, however, often use the term polymorphism to mean different things. Sometimes it simply means a non disease-causing change to a base pair, and sometimes it more specifically means a change found at a frequency of 1% or higher in the population.

Mitochondrial DNA

Mitochondrial DNA. Credit:

The word ‘mutation’ is often associated with something negative, a disease causing variant or a pathogenic subsitution. The problem with these kinds of terms is that despite their different meanings, they can and will be used to describe the exact same change in any number of specific base pair alterations. This is no way to run scientific dialog, let alone research. At the risk of getting bogged down in such ambiguities, we might suggest that the central question of what is the meaning of change in base pairs can be still answered, only not yet for our nuclear DNA.

Read more at: MedicalXpress

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