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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Precision Medicine-Molecular Mechanisms of Cancer Development and Actionable Genes. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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DNA Damage

Germline and somatic mutations can occur during or after replication. During replication, DNA polymerases can incorporate the incorrect nucleotide. The incorrect nucleotide may be a normal nucleotide that is not complementary to the original DNA nucleotide or the polymerase may inadvertently incorporate a chemically altered nucleotide into the sequence. Some DNA polymerases have the ability to proofread the sequence they just created and can edit in real time if they detect an issue. Some mistakes are not caught and/or repaired and are thus carried onto subsequent generations of cells.
Sometimes DNA becomes mutated after replication. This can occur due to a spontaneous chemical change in the base. Alternatively, a physical or chemical mutagen can cause the mutation to occur.