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Degeneracy of Amino Acid Coding Paper

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On the origin of degeneracy in the genetic code Abstract : The degeneracy of amino acid coding is one of the most crucial and enigmatic aspects of the genetic code. Different theories about the origin of the genetic code have been developed. However, to date, there is no comprehensive hypothesis on the mechanism that might have generated the degeneracy as we observe it. Here, we provide a new theory that explains the origin of the degeneracy based only on symmetry principles. The approach allows one to describe exactly the degeneracy of the early code (progenitor of the genetic code of LUCA, the last universal common ancestor) which is hypothesized to have the same degeneracy as the present vertebrate mitochondrial genetic code. The theory is based upon the tessera code, that fits as the progenitor of the early code. Moreover, we describe in detail the possible evolutionary transitions implied by our theory. The approach is supported by a unified mathematical framework that accounts for the degeneracy properties of both nuclear and mitochondrial genetic codes. Our work provides a new perspective to the understanding of the origin of the genetic code and the roles of symmetry principles in the organization of genetic information. Guidelines Evolution 2.0 Prize Introduction : Extant genetic codes can be seen as a mapping between two different sets: the 64 possible mRNA codons and the 20 amino acids plus the stop signals needed for protein synthesis. Since the cardinality of th ...
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