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Life (Basel). 2017 Dec 3;7(4). pii: E52. doi: 10.3390/life7040052.

Enrichment of Circular Code Motifs in the Genes of the Yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

Author information

1
Complex Systems and Translational Bioinformatics, ICube, University of Strasbourg, CNRS, 300 Boulevard Sébastien Brant, 67400 Illkirch, France. c.michel@unistra.fr.
2
Complex Systems and Translational Bioinformatics, ICube, University of Strasbourg, CNRS, 300 Boulevard Sébastien Brant, 67400 Illkirch, France. vivianengoune@gmail.com.
3
Complex Systems and Translational Bioinformatics, ICube, University of Strasbourg, CNRS, 300 Boulevard Sébastien Brant, 67400 Illkirch, France. olivier.poch@unistra.fr.
4
Complex Systems and Translational Bioinformatics, ICube, University of Strasbourg, CNRS, 300 Boulevard Sébastien Brant, 67400 Illkirch, France. raymond.ripp@unistra.fr.
5
Complex Systems and Translational Bioinformatics, ICube, University of Strasbourg, CNRS, 300 Boulevard Sébastien Brant, 67400 Illkirch, France. thompson@unistra.fr.

Abstract

A set X of 20 trinucleotides has been found to have the highest average occurrence in the reading frame, compared to the two shifted frames, of genes of bacteria, archaea, eukaryotes, plasmids and viruses. This set X has an interesting mathematical property, since X is a maximal C3 self-complementary trinucleotide circular code. Furthermore, any motif obtained from this circular code X has the capacity to retrieve, maintain and synchronize the original (reading) frame. Since 1996, the theory of circular codes in genes has mainly been developed by analysing the properties of the 20 trinucleotides of X, using combinatorics and statistical approaches. For the first time, we test this theory by analysing the X motifs, i.e., motifs from the circular code X, in the complete genome of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Several properties of X motifs are identified by basic statistics (at the frequency level), and evaluated by comparison to R motifs, i.e., random motifs generated from 30 different random codes R. We first show that the frequency of X motifs is significantly greater than that of R motifs in the genome of S. cerevisiae. We then verify that no significant difference is observed between the frequencies of X and R motifs in the non-coding regions of S. cerevisiae, but that the occurrence number of X motifs is significantly higher than R motifs in the genes (protein-coding regions). This property is true for all cardinalities of X motifs (from 4 to 20) and for all 16 chromosomes. We further investigate the distribution of X motifs in the three frames of S. cerevisiae genes and show that they occur more frequently in the reading frame, regardless of their cardinality or their length. Finally, the ratio of X genes, i.e., genes with at least one X motif, to non-X genes, in the set of verified genes is significantly different to that observed in the set of putative or dubious genes with no experimental evidence. These results, taken together, represent the first evidence for a significant enrichment of X motifs in the genes of an extant organism. They raise two hypotheses: the X motifs may be evolutionary relics of the primitive codes used for translation, or they may continue to play a functional role in the complex processes of genome decoding and protein synthesis.

KEYWORDS:

circular code motifs; gene enrichment; yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae

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