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RNA. 2000 Apr;6(4):475-84.

RNA-ligand chemistry: a testable source for the genetic code.

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Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, University of Colorado, Boulder 80309-0347, USA.


In the genetic code, triplet codons and amino acids can be shown to be related by chemical principles. Such chemical regularities could be created either during the code's origin or during later evolution. One such chemical principle can now be shown experimentally. Natural or particularly selected RNA binding sites for at least three disparate amino acids (arginine, isoleucine, and tyrosine) are enriched in codons for the cognate amino acid. Currently, in 517 total nucleotides, binding sites contain 2.4-fold more codon sequences than surrounding nucleotides. The aggregate probability of this enrichment is 10(-7) to 10(-8), had codons and binding site sequences been independent. Thus, at least some primordial coding assignments appear to have exploited triplets from amino acid binding sites as codons.

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