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The origin of the genetic code represents one of the most challenging problems in molecular evolution. The genetic code is an important universal feature of extant organisms and indicates a common ancestry of different forms of life on earth. Known variants of the genetic code can be mainly divided in mitochondrial and nuclear classes. Here we provide a new insight on the origin of the mitochondrial genetic code: we found that its degeneracy distribution can be explained by using a mathematical approach recently developed for the description of the Euplotes nuclear variant of the genetic code. The results point to a primeval mitochondrial genetic code composed of four base codons, which we call tesserae, that, among other features, exhibit outstanding error detection capabilities. The theoretical description suggests also a formulation of a plausible biological theory about the origin of protein coding. Such …
Nature Publishing Group UK
Publication date: 
1 Jan 2012

Diego Luis Gonzalez, Simone Giannerini, Rodolfo Rosa

Biblio References: 
Volume: 7 Pages: 1-1
Nature precedings