• Question: how dos dna get damage

    Asked by edison to Rachel L, Michael S, Lisa R, Giulia, Elly, Anna S, aliceduncan on 24 Apr 2024.
    • Photo: Michael Schubert

      Michael Schubert answered on 24 Apr 2024:

      DNA can get damaged in all sorts of different ways. Certain types of chemicals can damage it. So can exposure to some kinds of radiation (including ultraviolet radiation from the sun, which is why we always wear protection in sunny weather). Sometimes it can be damaged simply by age or stress, which can cause DNA to be copied incorrectly or release chemicals that damage it.

      Luckily, our bodies also have lots of different ways to spot and repair DNA damage. We have special proteins that scan our DNA or RNA for mistakes (like missing or added bases or bases that have been swapped out) and, when a mistake is spotted, we have different sets of proteins that come in to fix the problem depending on what it is. They can cut out bases, swap them, or even get rid of the DNA entirely if it’s too difficult to fix. DNA damage can be very problematic if it isn’t caught, which is why we have so many mechanisms to sort it out.