Proceedings of the Japan Academy, Series B
Online ISSN : 1349-2896
Print ISSN : 0386-2208
ISSN-L : 0386-2208
Reviews
Evolving genetic code
Takeshi OHAMAYuji INAGAKIYoshitaka BESSHOSyozo OSAWA
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2008 Volume 84 Issue 2 Pages 58-74

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Abstract

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.)

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© 2008 The Japan Academy
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