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J Mol Biol. 1997 Jul 25;270(4):544-50.

Growth rate-optimised tRNA abundance and codon usage.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Biology, Uppsala University Biomedical Center, Uppsala, S-75124, Sweden.


The abundance of different tRNAs in Escherichia coli at different growth rates correlates strongly with the usage of the corresponding cognate codons. On the assumption that the investment in the translation system is optimised to provide a maximal growth rate, the relationship between tRNA levels and codon usage can be predicted. When the complications due to different degeneracies and different association rate constants for the different tRNA-codon combinations are accounted for, recent data from the literature indicate that the predicted relations hold up very well: the tRNA levels correlate with codon frequencies in a way that would support a maximal growth rate. The relations can also be used to predict the association rate constant between an A-site codon and the cognate ternary complex. In the cases where they can be compared, the results agree reasonably well with experimental results from the literature.

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