Document Detail

A hardware interpretation of the evolution of the genetic code.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  4074855     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
A quantitative rationale for the evolution of the genetic code is developed considering the principle of minimal hardware. This principle defines an optimal code as one that minimizes for a given amount of information encoded, the product of the number of physical devices used by the average complexity of each device. By identifying the number of different amino acids, number of nucleotide positions per codon and number of base types that can occupy each such position with, respectively, the amount of information, number of devices and the complexity, we show that optimal codes occur for 3, 7 and 20 amino acids with codons having a single, two and three base positions per codon, respectively. The advantage of a code of exactly 4 symbols is deduced, as well as a plausible evolutionary pathway from a code of doublets to triplets. The present day code of 20 amino acids encoded by 64 codons is shown to be the most optimal in an absolute sense. Using a tetraplet code further evolution to a code in which there would be 55 amino acids is in principle possible, but such a code would deviate slightly more than the present day code from the minimal hardware configuration. The change from a triplet code to a tetraplet code would occur at about 32 amino acids. Our conclusions are independent of, but consistent with, the observed physico-chemical properties of the amino acids and codon structures. These correlations could have evolved within the constrains imposed by the minimal hardware principle.
M A Soto; C J Tohá
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Bio Systems     Volume:  18     ISSN:  0303-2647     ISO Abbreviation:  BioSystems     Publication Date:  1985  
Date Detail:
Created Date:  1986-02-14     Completed Date:  1986-02-14     Revised Date:  2006-11-15    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0430773     Medline TA:  Biosystems     Country:  NETHERLANDS    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  209-15     Citation Subset:  IM; S    
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MeSH Terms
Amino Acids / genetics
Codon / genetics
Genetic Code*
Models, Genetic*
Reg. No./Substance:
0/Amino Acids; 0/Codon

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