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An extreme codon preference strategy: codon reassignment

An extreme codon preference strategy: codon reassignment

Molecular Biology and Evolution 8(4): 530-544

We argue that in animal mitochondria codon reassignments, such as those for AGA and AGG from arginine to serine or of AUA from isoleucine to methionine, are the results of an interplay between biased mutational forces and selective ones. In particular, there is a marked tendency for animal mitochondria to have very small genomes and to minimize their investment in components required for gene expression. These tendencies are expressed as a reduction in the diversity of tRNA isoacceptor species. In our view, the pressure to simplify tRNA populations, together with mutational bias against certain codons, will account for the codon reassignments observed in animal mitochondria. A parallel to the major codon bias in microoganisms, which likewise tends to reduce the diversity of the tRNA isoacceptor populations under fast growth conditions, may be drawn. Therefore, we suggest that codon reassignments are usefully viewed as an extreme form of codon bias.

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Accession: 007010486

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PMID: 1921708

DOI: 10.1093/oxfordjournals.molbev.a040666

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