Variable Outcome of Mutations

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Science  06 Jan 2012:
Vol. 335, Issue 6064, pp. 44-45
DOI: 10.1126/science.1216823

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Why do some mutations produce a particular trait or disease, whereas others only increase the likelihood of such an outcome? One explanation is that other variations in the DNA sequence strengthen or weaken the effect of a given mutation, although environmental factors may also have an impact. On page 82 of this issue, Casanueva et al. (1) show that in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, stochastic differences in the amount of a protective chaperone protein, after exposure of the worms to mild stress, influence the effect of mutations.