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Glossary: mutation, Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota

mutation

(myoo-TAY-shun)

Any change in the DNA of a cell. Mutations may be caused by mistakes during cell division, or they may be caused by exposure to DNA-damaging agents in the environment. Mutations can be harmful, beneficial, or have no effect. If they occur in cells that make eggs or sperm, they can be inherited; if mutations occur in other types of cells, they are not inherited. Certain mutations may lead to cancer or other diseases.

A change in the usual DNA sequence at a particular gene locus. Mutations (including polymorphisms) can be harmful, beneficial, or neutral in their effect on cell function.

GeneticsHealth professional

2007-05-17