Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine.
New York: McGraw-Hill; Consider the following question. Would it be good if the process of mutation could be reduced? Would it be better if no new genetic changes ever occurred again? At first thought, the logical answer would probably be "yes. When you consider the many who must deal with developmental or physiological disabilities due to harmful mutations, it is easy to see the negative side of the process.
But the environment in which we live is not constant. We continue to face new biologic challenges. Exposure to novel disease pathogens is only one obvious example. Physiological processes allow us to respond to changes in the environment. But genetic diversity adds another mechanism of response. In theory, therefore, the genetic diversity created by mutation may be fundamentally good—at least for the long-term survival of the species. One way to think about this question is to consider biochemical pathways controlled by proteins under allosteric regulation.
Binding with cofactors can change protein conformation within limits affected by environmental variables like temperature. A heterozygote for a key regulatory step can produce alternate protein forms with slightly different temperature optima. For that reason, a heterozygote is better able to handle the range of environmental conditions it naturally encounters. This can lead to the establishment of a polymorphism literally "poly," many or multiple; Forgot Password? What is MyAccess? Otherwise it is hidden from view.
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