• Question: What is the most common way in which DNA is damaged?

    Asked by justbarnaby to Ross on 17 Jun 2019.
    • Photo: Ross Hill

      Ross Hill answered on 17 Jun 2019:

      This is a really important question!

      The truth is we don’t really know. There are some types of damage that we know are quite common.

      For example, the genetic code is made up of A, T, G and C, and the sequence of these letters is the information for life. However, each of the letters share a common backbone made of sugar and phosphate. Sometimes the letter part (the A, T, G or C) can be lost, resulting in a type of damage known as an abasic site (the letters are known as bases, hence abasic).

      This can happen spontaneously! Which is scary to think your DNA spontaneously gets damaged, in every cell, every day!

      It’s estimated that round 10,000 abasic sites are generated in every cell EACH DAY!

      That is why DNA repair processes are SOOOOO important!