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Microbiology. 2000 Apr;146 ( Pt 4):851-60.

Absence of translationally selected synonymous codon usage bias in Helicobacter pylori.

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  • 1Institute of Genetics, Department of Medicine, University of Nottingham, Queen's Medical Center, UK.


Synonymous codon usage in the complete genome of Helicobacter pylori was investigated. The moderate A+T-richness of the genome (G+C=39 mol%) is reflected in the overall synonymous codon usage but the frequencies of some codons cannot be explained by simple mutational biases. A low level of heterogeneity among genes was observed, but this does not appear to be due to varying mutational bias or translational selection. Some of the heterogeneity was due to amino acid composition variation among the encoded proteins, and some may be attributable to recent acquisition of genes from other species. Since Hel. pylori codon usage is not dominated by biased mutation patterns, the absence of evidence for translationally mediated selection among synonymous codons is striking. This has implications with regard to the life history of this species, and in particular suggests that Hel. pylori strains are not subject to periods of competitive exponential growth. Despite the lack of selected codon usage, base composition immediately after the translation initiation site is skewed, consistent with selection against secondary structure formation in this region.

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