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J Mol Evol. 1989 Apr;28(4):271-8.

Codon reassignment (codon capture) in evolution.

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Nagoya University, Department of Biology, Japan.


The genetic code, once thought to be "frozen," shows variations from the universal code. Variations are found in mitochondria, Mycoplasma, and ciliated protozoa. The variations result from reassignment of codons, especially stop codons. The reassignments take place by disappearance of a codon from coding sequences, followed by its reappearance in a new role. Simultaneously, a changed anticodon must appear. We discuss the role of directional mutation pressure in the events, and we also describe the possibility that such events have taken place during early evolution of the genetic code and can occur during its present evolution.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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