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Small damages to sequences in the human genome are causing evolutionary changes in our DNA, according to a group of Japanese geneticists.

Their recent findings prove that a common form of DNA damage caused by oxidation (called 8-oxoG) is a primary cause of mutagenesis, damage to DNA during the genome replication process that causes mutations in the resulting DNA molecules.

Succinctly, the human race is genetically mutating, and we now may know how and why--at least in part.

Japanese geneticist Yusaku Nakabeppu of Kyushu University and his team released their findings Monday in Genome Research.

"Our findings suggest that 8-oxoG is one of the main causes of frequent recombinations and SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms) in the human genome, which largely contribute to the genomic diversity in human beings," the researchers concluded in their Genome Research journal article.

DNA is made up of four nucleobases: adenine, cytosine, guanine and thymine. Combinations of these four bases make up the human genome. Among the four bases, guanine is the nucleotide most susceptible to oxidation, and the most common oxidation product of guanine is known as 8-oxoG (8-oxoguanine). It is this prevalent substance that is thought to cause SNPs.

SNPs are subtle changes in chemical pairings found in the DNA sequence. SNPs and frequent recombination of code result in genetic mutation.

These changes in chemical pairings sometimes cluster in one area of the DNA sequence but, until recently, scientists were unsure of why. Nakabeppu and his team have found a causal link between 8-oxoG and clusters of sequence variations in the human genome.

While the specific environmental factors causing the mutation were not part of the research, the study established that the change is not happening in a closed system. The scientists agree with previous studies that have seen exposure to ionizing radiation and other environmental causes as genetic threats, according to their article.

Previously, SNPs were thought to be natural occurrences caused by internal byproduct releases from chemical reactions.

The Japanese researchers used genetic material from two healthy men and two healthy women (all unrelated genetically) in the study.

Scientific American originally disclosed Genome Research's release of the findings.

See more CNET content tagged:
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I would like to grow big bat wings and have adamantium eye lashes that can kill with a wink.
Posted by tipper_gore (74 comments )
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Posted by dondarko (261 comments )
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I was just saying... my other head last week, "I'm sure there are more mutants around than there used to be." He just said "moo."
Posted by JFDMit (180 comments )
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Comments are appropriate to quality of story
I'm not sure why this is news, except for the part about oxidation.

Darwin figured out that without mutation, there can be no evolution. Its been happening for millions of years. So this shouldn't be interesting to anyone but kids that missed 9th grade biology (because they were probably playing video games or going to the movies.
Posted by S E M 1 (2 comments )
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evolution isnt mutation based
evolution is the gradual change of a species into other species by survival of the fittest. Lesser beings died off and the more fit continued to live, and yes mutation has created some more fit beings to outlive and survive against others, it's not the basic means of evolution.
Posted by littyshac (3 comments )
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Grade 9
During our 9th grade biology classes I was conducting my own biology class with my girlfriend - if you know what I mean, heh heh heh.

So this article all news to me! :-P
Posted by sanjayb (538 comments )
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Nice piece of fiction.
Posted by fakespam (239 comments )
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Why fiction?
Do you have some sort of evidence this is not happening? Any studies, research or proof? Perhaps you know more than the scientists that did the research. If you do know more I would just like to know what. Maybe you can shed some more light on the issue.
Posted by drewbyh (91 comments )
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"Viking I" was my intro into this data 'DNA' prodegy. "Pluto or Bust!"
No Alien abduction here. Pure logic and science hit me blind; sometimes I blame pharmacutical drugs like "Tom Cruise"; well all the time. But, these programs never end. Blame the English for there anthropology and skeletal profiling I guess?
Posted by Pop4 (88 comments )
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Of concern
The majority of gene mutations are either GNDN (Goes nowhere, does nothing) or detrimental. If there really is an increase of gene mutation, it's a matter of some concern.
Posted by sctparker (10 comments )
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not quite...
It is true that most mutations are neutral, so in a very technical sense, your "or" comment is not wrong -- but only in the sense that it would also be true to say most mutations are neutral or helpful. You're perilously close to making the incorrect statement that most mutations are harmful; this is a better description of the situation: <a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>
Posted by mnemophobe (4 comments )
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You need to go back to school
Evolution cannot occur without mutation. While evolution has become synonomous with being a good thing, mutation is the basis of evolution. The only difference between evolution and mutation is evolution focuses only on beneficial mutation, while when someone says mutation, it can be good or bad.
Posted by aka_tripleB (2211 comments )
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Dumbest headline ever
The story itself is fine, if unexciting, but the headline was clearly written by someone with absolutely no understanding of evolution. Where are the science editors who actually understand science, and try to honestly communicate it to the public?
Posted by mnemophobe (4 comments )
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Calling it damage, as opposed to merely change reeks of design. If there's damage, might there also be restoration of the design? How does one distinguish damage from restoration? Without that ability to distinguish, it is merely change.
Posted by Robert Claypool (6 comments )
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X-Men? Point & laugh @ Cnet
Yeah, instead of no longer growing wisdom teeth or an appendix we'll get laser beams shooting out our eyes and the ability to control weather.

Completely unrelated to the story and a bad attempt to gain page views.
Posted by Bob_Barker (167 comments )
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what about the laws of physics?
i bet the next xmen will be great but in reality
its impossible to get those sort of things reguardless of so called if any ever seen such a mutation yet? thing they will say is the enterprise is closer to realtiy :P
beam me up lol
Posted by newcreation (118 comments )
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2 years from now the human species will be mutated the unique and special people will be gifted Believe me I would not lie to you all I... I can do something I can kind of make the future as long as I believe I can like talk to my concience or something like that like this morning I got grounded o; yes I am a kid 11 actually but I talked to my conscience or whatever it is and asked if I can get the computer back if I ask my mom it said yes ask her at 10:02 am then it said first is worst second is best third is what a hairy chest weird huh but cool I guess? Just remember Believe with all your heart as I will do the same.
Posted by XMenBelieve (3 comments )
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And I plan to help us all for I am already kind of a mutant I can in a way make the future as I said. The comics say there was an institute for Mutants I'm going to make an Institute for mutants help you all master your powers believe me I'm 11 and a hard hard worker. I'm going to look at the map of the institute make it exactly as it said. I will do that because my Conscience or whatever it is doesn't lie. Its how I make the future pretty much it tells me what to say or do. Remember to just believe and you will succeed in life. I used to get bullied then I tried to send a Telepathic message to the bully at night to tell him he better stop. And I think it worked and all I had to do for it to work was believe Just say these words every time you go to bed:

I Believe I can do anything I want to do
I Believe I can be anything I want to be
I Believe... I BELIEVE!!

Some people may think I'm crazy but I don't care.
Posted by XMenBelieve (3 comments )
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Like I said I will help all of us but I don't want to own the Institute. I mean I would only be 13 in 2 years I just wanna have a good time and help everyone teach whoever wants to own the institue what to do.
Posted by XMenBelieve (3 comments )
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