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Microbiol Rev. 1990 Jun;54(2):198-210.

Codon preferences in free-living microorganisms.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Biology, Uppsala University Biomedical Center, Sweden.


A popular interpretation of the major codon preference is that it reflects the operation of a regulatory device that controls the expression of individual proteins. In this popular model, rapidly translated codons are thought to promote the accumulation of the highly expressed proteins and slowly translated codons are thought to retard the expression of poorly expressed proteins. However, this widely accepted model is not supported by kinetic theory or by experimental results. A less fashionable model in which the major codon preference has nothing to do with the expression level of the individual proteins is forwarded. In this model, the major codon preference is viewed as a global strategy to support the efficient function of the translation system and thereby to maximize the growth rates of cells under favorable conditions.

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