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J Mol Evol. 1990 Aug;31(2):81-91.

Codon usage changes and sequence dissimilarity between human and rat.

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Laboratoire de Biométrie, Génétique et Biologie des Populations (CNRS U.R.A. 243), Université Claude Bernard, Villeurbanne, France.


This paper reports on the relationship between the number of silent differences and the codon usage changes in the lineages leading to human and rat. Examination of 102 pairs of homologous genes gives rise to four main conclusions: (1) We have previously demonstrated the existence of a codon usage change (called the minor shift) between human and rat; this was confirmed here with a larger sample. For genes with extreme C & G frequencies, the C & G level in the third codon position is less extreme in rat than in human. (2) Protein similarity and percentage of positive differences are the two main factors that discriminate homologous genes when characterized by differences between rat and human. By definition, positive differences result from silent changes between A or T and C or G with a direction implying a C & G content variation in the same direction as the overall gene variation. (3) For genes showing both codon usage change and low protein similarity, a majority of amino acid replacements contributes to C & G level variation in positions I and II in the same direction as the variation in position III. This is thus a new example of protein evolution due to constraints acting at the DNA level. (4) In heavy isochores (high C & G content) no direct correlation exists between codon usage change (measured by the dissymmetry of differences) and silent dissimilarity. In light isochores the opposite situation is observed: modification of codon usage is associated with a high synonymous dissimilarity. This result shows that, in some cases, modification of constrains acting at the DNA level could accelerate divergence between genomes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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