A team of researchers investigating the genome of a healthy supercentenarian since 2011 has found many somatic mutations – permanent changes in cells other than reproductive ones – that arose during the woman's lifetime.
The researchers hypothesized that white blood cells, which divide frequently, would have many more somatic mutations than brain cells, which seldom divide.
Based on these validation tests, the researchers estimated that there were about 450 somatic mutations in the non-repetitive genome of the white blood cells studied, corresponding to an average of four mutations per year. "
"It is important to note that white blood cells differ from most other cells in the body and are especially prone to acquiring somatic mutations," said Mark A. "For W115, about 64% of the white blood cells comprised a dominant clone, which was where the mutations were found, while about 44% of the white blood cells were in a second clone subsidiary to the larger one.
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