2008 Volume 84 Issue 2 Pages 58-74
In 1985, we reported that a bacterium, Mycoplasma capricolum, used a deviant genetic code, namely UGA, a “universal” stop codon, was read as tryptophan. This finding, together with the deviant nuclear genetic codes in not a few organisms and a number of mitochondria, shows that the genetic code is not universal, and is in a state of evolution. To account for the changes in codon meanings, we proposed the codon capture theory stating that all the code changes are non-disruptive without accompanied changes of amino acid sequences of proteins. Supporting evidence for the theory is presented in this review. A possible evolutionary process from the ancient to the present-day genetic code is also discussed.
(Communicated by Takao SEKIYA, M.J.A.)