The Coevolution of Genes and Genetic Codes: Crick’s Frozen Accident Revisited

  title={The Coevolution of Genes and Genetic Codes: Crick’s Frozen Accident Revisited},
  author={Guy Sella and David H. Ardell},
  journal={Journal of Molecular Evolution},
The standard genetic code is the nearly universal system for the translation of genes into proteins. The code exhibits two salient structural characteristics: it possesses a distinct organization that makes it extremely robust to errors in replication and translation, and it is highly redundant. The origin of these properties has intrigued researchers since the code was first discovered. One suggestion, which is the subject of this review, is that the code’s organization is the outcome of the… 

Origin and evolution of the genetic code: The universal enigma

Much of the evolution that led to the standard code could be a combination of frozen accident with selection for error minimization although contributions from coevolution of the code with metabolic pathways and weak affinities between amino acids and nucleotide triplets cannot be ruled out.

The Organization of the Genetic Code The Organization of the Genetic Code

The paper shows that the genetic code must be viewed not only on stereochemical, coevolution, and error-correction considerations, but also on two additional factors of significance to natural systems, that of an information-theoretic dimensionality of the code data and the principle of maximum entropy.

Revisiting the Physico-Chemical Hypothesis of Code Origin: An Analysis Based on Code-Sequence Coevolution in a Finite Population

It is found that the composition of the code population affects the code fixation probability, which suggests that physico-chemical optimization may not be the sole driving force in ensuring the emergence of the standard genetic code.

An Alternative Look at Code Evolution: Using Non-canonical Codes to Evaluate Adaptive and Historic Models for the Origin of the Genetic Code

The levels of robustness in existing non-canonical codes as well as codes that differ in only one codon assignment from the standard code are evaluated and it is found that many of these codes is comparable or better than that of thestandard code.

Evolution of the genetic code: partial optimization of a random code for robustness to translation error in a rugged fitness landscape

The standard code appears to be the result of partial optimization of a random code for robustness to errors of translation, and is a point on an evolutionary trajectory from a random point (code) about half the way to the summit of the local peak.

Origin and Evolution of the Universal Genetic Code.

Phylogenetic analysis of translation system components, in particular aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases, shows that, at a stage of evolution when the translation system had already attained high fidelity, the correspondence between amino acids and cognate codons was determined by recognition of amino acids by RNA molecules, i.e., proto-tRNAs.

A colorful origin for the genetic code: Information theory, statistical mechanics and the emergence of molecular codes

  • T. Tlusty
  • Computer Science, Biology
    Physics of life reviews
  • 2010

A four-column theory for the origin of the genetic code: tracing the evolutionary pathways that gave rise to an optimized code

A 'four-column' theory for the origin of the code is proposed that explains how the action of selection during the build-up of the codes leads to a final code that has the observed properties.

Comparison of translation loads for standard and alternative genetic codes

It is shown that the standard genetic code is generally better able to reduce the translation load than the naturally occurring variants studied here, and some of the other alternative genetic codes are predicted to be better adapted for extreme mutation biases.

Codon Size Reduction as the Origin of the Triplet Genetic Code

A mathematical model of the evolution of primitive digital coding systems which can decode nucleotide sequences into protein sequences suggests an explanation of how protein synthesis could be accomplished by means of long RNA-RNA interactions prior to the emergence of the complex decoding machinery, such as the ribosome.



Coevolution theory of the genetic code at age thirty.

  • J. Wong
  • Biology
    BioEssays : news and reviews in molecular, cellular and developmental biology
  • 2005
The coevolution theory of the genetic code, which postulates that prebiotic synthesis was an inadequate source of all twenty protein amino acids, and therefore some of them had to be derived from the

No accident: genetic codes freeze in error-correcting patterns of the standard genetic code.

  • D. ArdellG. Sella
  • Biology, Computer Science
    Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences
  • 2002
A deterministic population genetic model of code-message coevolution that reproduces the error-correcting patterns of the standard genetic code and incorporates characteristic patterns of mutation and translational error, namely, transition bias and positional asymmetry, respectively.

On the Evolution of Redundancy in Genetic Codes

The results suggest that various omnipresent phenomena that distribute codons over sites with different selective requirementspredispose the evolution of redundancy and of reduced amino acid diversity in genetic codes.

The Impact of Message Mutation on the Fitness of a Genetic Code

It is established that selection for mutational load minimization acts at the level of an individual in a single generation, and the number of mutant codons in each individual at equilibrium reflects a long-term evolutionary balance between mutations in messages and selection on proteins.

The Darwinian Genetic Code: An Adaptation for Adapting?

  • S. Freeland
  • Biology
    Genetic Programming and Evolvable Machines
  • 2004
This work has suggested that the assignments of amino acids to codons appear to be organized so as to minimize the change in amino acid hydrophobicity that results from random mutations, and may in fact represent an adaptation to maximize the efficiency of adaptive evolution.

The Genetic Code Is One in a Million

It is concluded that the natural genetic code is extremely efficient at minimizing the effects of errors, but also that its structure reflects biases in these errors, as might be expected were the code the product of selection.

The Case for an Error Minimizing Standard Genetic Code

There remain ill explored facets of the `error minimizing' code hypothesis, including the mechanism and pathway by which an adaptive pattern of codon assignments emerged, the extent to which natural selection created synonym redundancy, its role in shaping the amino acid and nucleotide languages, and even the correct interpretation of the adaptive codon assignment pattern.

Selection, history and chemistry: the three faces of the genetic code.

The phylogeny of trnas seems to confirm the predictions of the coevolution theory of the origin of the genetic code

  • M. Giulio
  • Biology
    Origins of life and evolution of the biosphere
  • 2005
An extensive analysis of the evolutionary relationships existing between transfer RNAs, performed using parsimony algorithms, is presented, and seems to suggest that the coevolution hypothesis is supported.