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Nucleic Acids Res. 2010 Oct;38(19):6719-28. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkq495. Epub 2010 Jun 8.

Synonymous codon usage influences the local protein structure observed.

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Department of Statistics, Oxford University, 1 South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3TG, UK.


Translation of mRNA into protein is a unidirectional information flow process. Analysing the input (mRNA) and output (protein) of translation, we find that local protein structure information is encoded in the mRNA nucleotide sequence. The Coding Sequence and Structure (CSandS) database developed in this work provides a detailed mapping between over 4000 solved protein structures and their mRNA. CSandS facilitates a comprehensive analysis of codon usage over many organisms. In assigning translation speed, we find that relative codon usage is less informative than tRNA concentration. For all speed measures, no evidence was found that domain boundaries are enriched with slow codons. In fact, genes seemingly avoid slow codons around structurally defined domain boundaries. Translation speed, however, does decrease at the transition into secondary structure. Codons are identified that have structural preferences significantly different from the amino acid they encode. However, each organism has its own set of 'significant codons'. Our results support the premise that codons encode more information than merely amino acids and give insight into the role of translation in protein folding.

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