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Open AccessConcept Paper

What Froze the Genetic Code?

Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona), The Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology, Baldiri Reixac, 10, 08028 Barcelona, Spain
Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies (ICREA), Passeig Lluis Companys 23, 08010 Barcelona, Spain
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Koji Tamura
Received: 2 March 2017 / Revised: 27 March 2017 / Accepted: 3 April 2017 / Published: 5 April 2017
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The frozen accident theory of the Genetic Code was a proposal by Francis Crick that attempted to explain the universal nature of the Genetic Code and the fact that it only contains information for twenty amino acids. Fifty years later, it is clear that variations to the universal Genetic Code exist in nature and that translation is not limited to twenty amino acids. However, given the astonishing diversity of life on earth, and the extended evolutionary time that has taken place since the emergence of the extant Genetic Code, the idea that the translation apparatus is for the most part immobile remains true. Here, we will offer a potential explanation to the reason why the code has remained mostly stable for over three billion years, and discuss some of the mechanisms that allow species to overcome the intrinsic functional limitations of the protein synthesis machinery. View Full-Text
Keywords: translation; evolution; speciation; protein folds; tRNA; ribosome translation; evolution; speciation; protein folds; tRNA; ribosome

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Ribas de Pouplana, L.; Torres, A.G.; Rafels-Ybern, À. What Froze the Genetic Code? Life 2017, 7, 14.

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