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J Mol Evol. 1991 Sep;33(3):216-25.

Essential factors determining codon usage in ubiquitin genes.

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  • 1Division of Biology, National Institute of Radiological Sciences, Chiba, Japan.

Abstract

Ubiquitin is ubiquitous in all eukaryotes and its amino acid sequence shows extreme conservation. Ubiquitin genes comprise direct repeats of the ubiquitin coding unit with no spacers. The nucleotide sequences coding for 13 ubiquitin genes from 11 species reported so far have been compiled and analyzed. The G + C content of codon third base reveals a positive linear correlation with the genome G + C content of the corresponding species. The slope strongly suggests that the overall G + C content of codons of polyubiquitin genes clearly reflects the genome G + C content by AT/GC substitutions at the codon third position. The G + C content of ubiquitin codon third base also shows a positive linear correlation with the overall G + C content of coding regions of compiled genes, indicating the codon choices among synonymous codons reflect the average codon usage pattern of corresponding species. On the other hand, the monoubiquitin gene, which is different from the polyubiquitin gene in gene organization, gene expression, and function of the encoding protein, shows a different codon usage pattern compared with that of the polyubiquitin gene. From comparisons of the levels of synonymous substitutions among ubiquitin repeats and the homology of the amino acid sequence of the tail of monomeric ubiquitin genes, we propose that the molecular evolution of ubiquitin genes occurred as follows: Plural primitive ubiquitin sequences were dispersed on genome in ancestral eukaryotes. Some of them situated in a particular environment fused with the tail sequence to produce monomeric ubiquitin genes that were maintained across species. After divergence of species, polyubiquitin genes were formed by duplication of the other primitive ubiquitin sequences on different chromosomes. Differences in the environments in which ubiquitin genes are embedded reflect the differences in codon choice and in gene expression pattern between poly- and monomeric ubiquitin genes.

PMID:
1661781
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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