genetic variation

Definition of variant


Any change in the DNA sequence of a cell. Variants may be caused by mistakes during cell division, or they may be caused by exposure to DNA-damaging agents in the environment. Variants can be harmful, beneficial, or have no effect. If they occur in cells that make eggs or sperm, they can be inherited; if variants occur in other types of cells, they are not inherited. Certain variants may lead to cancer or other diseases. A variant is sometimes called a mutation.

Source: NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms