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Genetics. 2012 Oct;192(2):641-9. doi: 10.1534/genetics.112.143677. Epub 2012 Aug 3.

The relation of codon bias to tissue-specific gene expression in Arabidopsis thaliana.

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Dipartimento di Agraria, Università degli Studi di Sassari, 07100 Sassari, Italy.


The codon composition of coding sequences plays an important role in the regulation of gene expression. Herein, we report systematic differences in the usage of synonymous codons among Arabidopsis thaliana genes that are expressed specifically in distinct tissues. Although we observed that both regionally and transcriptionally associated mutational biases were associated significantly with codon bias, they could not explain the observed differences fully. Similarly, given that transcript abundances did not account for the differences in codon usage, it is unlikely that selection for translational efficiency can account exclusively for the observed codon bias. Thus, we considered the possible evolution of codon bias as an adaptive response to the different abundances of tRNAs in different tissues. Our analysis demonstrated that in some cases, codon usage in genes that were expressed in a broad range of tissues was influenced primarily by the tissue in which the gene was expressed maximally. On the basis of this finding we propose that genes that are expressed in certain tissues might show a tissue-specific compositional signature in relation to codon usage. These findings might have implications for the design of transgenes in relation to optimizing their expression.

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