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On the Importance of Asymmetry in the Phenotypic Expression of the Genetic Code upon the Molecular Evolution of Proteins

Theoretical Biology Group, Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Ciudad Universitaria 04510, Mexico
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Symmetry 2020, 12(6), 997; https://doi.org/10.3390/sym12060997
Received: 28 April 2020 / Revised: 18 May 2020 / Accepted: 20 May 2020 / Published: 11 June 2020
The standard genetic code (SGC) is a mapping between the 64 possible arrangements of the four RNA nucleotides (C, A, U, G) into triplets or codons, where 61 codons are assigned to a specific amino acid and the other three are stop codons for terminating protein synthesis. Aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases (aaRSs) are responsible for implementing the SGC by specifically amino-acylating only its cognate transfer RNA (tRNA), thereby linking an amino acid with its corresponding anticodon triplets. tRNAs molecules bind each codon with its anticodon. To understand the meaning of symmetrical/asymmetrical properties of the SGC, we designed synthetic genetic codes with known symmetries and with the same degeneracy of the SGC. We determined their impact on the substitution rates for each amino acid under a neutral model of protein evolution. We prove that the phenotypic graphs of the SGC for codons and anticodons for all the possible arrangements of nucleotides are asymmetric and the amino acids do not form orbits. In the symmetrical synthetic codes, the amino acids are grouped according to their codonicity, this is the number of triplets encoding a given amino acid. Both the SGC and symmetrical synthetic codes exhibit a probability of occurrence of the amino acids proportional to their degeneracy. Unlike the SGC, the synthetic codes display a constant probability of occurrence of the amino acid according to their codonicity. The asymmetry of the phenotypic graphs of codons and anticodons of the SGC, has important implications on the evolutionary processes of proteins. View Full-Text
Keywords: standard genetic code; symmetry; asymmetry; anticodon code; phenotypic graphs; protein evolution standard genetic code; symmetry; asymmetry; anticodon code; phenotypic graphs; protein evolution
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José, M.V.; Zamudio, G.S. On the Importance of Asymmetry in the Phenotypic Expression of the Genetic Code upon the Molecular Evolution of Proteins. Symmetry 2020, 12, 997.

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