In medicine, an acquired mutation refers to a genetic change that occurs in a person’s DNA after they are born, as opposed to a mutation that is inherited from their parents at birth. Acquired mutations can occur in any cell in the body, including both somatic cells (cells that make up the body’s tissues and organs) and germ cells (cells that give rise to eggs or sperm).
Acquired mutations can be caused by a variety of factors, including exposure to radiation, chemicals, or viruses; errors in DNA replication during cell division; and other environmental or lifestyle factors. These mutations can lead to changes in the function of genes and proteins, which can in turn lead to the development of various diseases and conditions, including cancer.
One important characteristic of acquired mutations is that they are usually not present in every cell of the body. Instead, they typically arise in a single cell or a small group of cells, and can then spread to other cells as those cells divide and multiply. This means that acquired mutations can give rise to a condition known as mosaicism, in which different parts of the body have different genetic makeup.
To diagnose acquired mutations, various genetic tests can be performed, including DNA sequencing, which can identify specific mutations in the DNA. These tests are often used to diagnose cancer and other genetic diseases, as well as to monitor the progress of treatment and to identify any new mutations that may arise over time.
Overall, acquired mutations can have a significant impact on a person’s health and well-being, and understanding how they arise and how they can be detected is an important area of research in medicine.