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Adv Space Res. 1995 Mar;15(3):365-82.

Direct interaction between amino acids and nucleotides as a possible physicochemical basis for the origin of the genetic code.

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Vectrix Corporation, Baltimore, MD 21209, USA.


A study of the association of homocodonic amino acids and selected heterocodonic amino acids with selected nucleotides in aqueous solution was undertaken to examine a possible physical basis for the origin of codon assignments. These interactions were studied using 1H nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR). Association constants for the various interactions were determined by fitting the changes in the chemical shifts of the anomeric and ring protons of the nucleoside moieties as a function of amino acid concentration to an isotherm which described the binding interaction. The strongest association of all homocodonic amino acids were with their respective anticodonic nucleotide sequences. The strength of association was seen to increase with increase in the chain length of the anticodonic nucleotide. The association of these amino acids with different phosphate esters of nucleotides suggests that a definite isomeric structure is required for association with a specified amino acid; the 5'-mononucleotides and (3'-5')-linked dinucleotides are the favored geometries for strong associations. Use of heterocodonic amino acids and nonprotein amino acids supports these findings. We conclude that there is at least a physicochemical, anticodonic contribution to the origin of the genetic code.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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