How to Understand Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms

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Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) are the variations in a DNA sequence in comparison to the conventional sequence of the DNA of that particular species.

Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms can fall anywhere in a genomic DNA. They can be found in the coding region, non-coding region and in between the coding and non-coding regions of DNA.

The Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms which fall in the coding region of the DNA have a great importance. Since they can make a huge difference in functioning of the particular gene falling in the coding region, they are closely observed and analyzed. For example, if a single nucleotide polymorphism changes the protein code of the gene, it will no longer make the same product of the protein. If it happens it is said that a mutation has occurred in the gene. If the mutation is severe it could result in a form of a disease. Usually cancers develop in this fashion. According to scientists at least seven SNP mutations are required in a functional gene to develop cancer.

If the mutation is not severe, it could be benign or have some affect on the behavior of the individual. For example, a human being with one type of Single Nucleotide Polymorphism mutation might not be able to tolerate a certain medication as compared to it’s counterparts in the same population.


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