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J Mol Biol. 1998 Aug 7;281(1):31-48.

Specific correlations between relative synonymous codon usage and protein secondary structure.

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Section of Biochemistry Molecular and Cell Biology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.


We found significant species-specific correlations between the use of two synonymous codons and protein secondary structure units by comparing the three-dimensional structures of human and Escherichia coli proteins with their mRNA sequences. The correlations are not explained by codon-context, expression level, GC/AU content, or positional effects. The E. coli correlation is between Asn AAC and the C-terminal regions of beta-sheet segments; it may result from selection for translational accuracy, suggesting the hypothesis that downstream Asn residues are important for beta-sheet formation. The correlation in human proteins is between Asp GAU and the N termini of alpha-helices; it may be important for eukaryote-specific sequential, cotranslational folding. The kingdom-specific correlations may reflect kingdom-specific differences in translational mechanisms. The correlations may help identify residues that are important for secondary structure formation, be useful in secondary structure prediction algorithms, and have implications for recombinant gene expression.

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