There are multiple ways for point mutations to occur. First, ultraviolet (UV) light and higher-frequency light are capable of ionizing electrons, which in turn can affect DNA. Reactive oxygen molecules with free radicals, which are a byproduct of cellular metabolism, can also be very harmful to DNA. These reactants can lead to both single-stranded DNA breaks and double-stranded DNA breaks. Third, bonds in DNA eventually degrade, which creates another problem to keep the integrity of DNA to a high standard. There can also be replication errors that lead to substitution, insertion, or deletion mutations.
Moreover, if the mutation occurs in the region of the gene where transcriptional machinery binds to the protein, the mutation can affect the binding of the transcription factors because the short nucleotide sequences recognized by the transcription factors will be altered. Mutations in this region can affect rate of efficiency of gene transcription, which in turn can alter levels of mRNA and, thus, protein levels in general.
Point mutations can have several effects on the behavior and reproduction of a protein depending on where the mutation occurs in the amino acid sequence of the protein. If the mutation occurs in the region of the gene that is responsible for coding for the protein, the amino acid may be altered. This slight change in the sequence of amino acids can cause a change in the function, activation of the protein meaning how it binds with a given enzyme, where the protein will be located within the cell, or the amount of free energy stored within the protein.
Sickle-cell anemia is caused by a point mutation in the β-globin chain of hemoglobin, causing the hydrophilic amino acid glutamic acid to be replaced with the hydrophobic amino acid valine at the sixth position.
The cause of Tay–Sachs disease is a genetic defect that is passed from parent to child. This genetic defect is located in the HEXA gene, which is found on chromosome 15.