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Logic of the genetic code: Conservation of long-range interactions among amino acids as a prime factor

Joshi, NV and Korde, Vivek V and Sitaramam, V (1993) Logic of the genetic code: Conservation of long-range interactions among amino acids as a prime factor. In: Journal of Genetics, 72 (2-3). pp. 47-58.

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Any statement on the optimality of the existing code ought to imply that this code is ideal for conserving a certain hierarchy of properties while implying that other codes may have been better suited for conservation of other hierarchies of properties. We have evaluated the capability of mutations in the genetic code to convert one amino acid into another in relation to the consequent changes in physical properties of those amino acids. A rather surprising result emerging from this analysis is that the genetic code conserves long-range interactions among amino acids and not their short-range stereochemical attributes. This observation, based directly on the genetic code itself and the physical properties of the 20 amino acids, lends credibility to the idea that the genetic code has not originated by a frozen accident (the null hypothesis rejected by these studies) nor are stereochemical attributes particularly useful in our understanding of what makes the genetic code 'tick'. While the argument that replacement of, say, an aspartate by a glutamate is less damaging than replacement by arginine makes sense, in order to subject such statements to rigorous statistical tests it is essential to define what constitutes a random sample for the genetic code. The present investigation describes one possible specification. In addition to obvious statistical considerations of testing hypotheses, this procedure points to the more exciting notion that alternative codes may have existed.

Item Type: Journal Article
Additional Information: Copyright of this article belongs to Indian Academy of Sciences.
Keywords: Genetic codes;mutation rates;evolution;frozen accident;stereochemical properties.
Department/Centre: Division of Biological Sciences > Centre for Ecological Sciences
Depositing User: Mr. Ramesh Chander
Date Deposited: 19 Jun 2008
Last Modified: 19 Sep 2010 04:46
URI: http://eprints.iisc.ac.in/id/eprint/14526

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