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J Mol Evol. 1999 Apr;48(4):390-7.

Codon bias and mutability in HIV sequences.

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Instituto de Ciencias Nucleares, UNAM, Circuito Exterior, Apartado Postal 70-543, México D.F. 04510, México.


A survey of the patterns of synonymous codon preference in the HIV env gene reveals a correlation between the codon bias and the mutability requirements of different regions of the protein. At hypervariable regions in gp120 one finds a greater proportion of codons that tend to mutate nonsynonymously, but to a target that is similar in hydrophobicity and volume. We argue that this strategy results from a compromise between the selective pressure placed on the virus by the induced immune response, which favors amino acid substitutions in the complementarity determining regions, and the negative selection against missense mutations that violate structural constraints of the env protein.

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