In Your Skin, a Catalog of Sun-Induced Mutations


Science Friday examines what happens to your skin once out in the sunshine. “Normal” human skin cells can contain a surprisingly large number of sun-induced mutations in their DNA, a new study has found. Philip Jones, a cancer researcher at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in the U.K., and colleagues took samples of cells from eyelid skin discarded during plastic surgery procedures. By sequencing the DNA in those skin samples, they were able to develop a picture of the types of mutations that can accumulate in skin cells over time. They found that over a quarter of normal, sun-exposed skin cells carry at least one “driver mutation” that can give that cell a reproductive advantage. The scientists are working to understand the factors that lead some cells to become cancerous.

This Science Friday episode aired on May 22, 2015.

Produced by Charles Bergquist, Director and Contributing Producer


Philip Jones
Research Team Leader in Pre-Cancer
Welcome Trust Sanger Institute
Cambridge, UK


Photo courtesy of Evil Erin via Flickr