Joined: May 2002
I thought we had a thread for the evolution of the genetic code, and some of the IDists claims about it. I guess it got lost in the server crash. Anyway, I thought I'd start this one up anew, and post a recent paper that's relevant to the origins of the genetic code.
Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 2002 Nov 29;357(1427):1625-42
No accident: genetic codes freeze in error-correcting patterns of the standard genetic code.
Ardell DH, Sella G.
|The standard genetic code poses a challenge in understanding the evolution of information processing at a fundamental level of biological organization. Genetic codes are generally coadapted with, or 'frozen' by, the protein-coding genes that they translate, and so cannot easily change by natural selection. Yet the standard code has a significantly non-random pattern that corrects common errors in the transmission of information in protein-coding genes. Because of the freezing effect and for other reasons, this pattern has been proposed not to be due to selection but rather to be incidental to other evolutionary forces or even entirely accidental. We present results from a deterministic population genetic model of code-message coevolution. We explicitly represent the freezing effect of genes on genetic codes and the perturbative effect of changes in genetic codes on genes. We incorporate characteristic patterns of mutation and translational error, namely, transition bias and positional asymmetry, respectively. Repeated selection over small successive changes produces genetic codes that are substantially, but not optimally, error correcting. In particular, our model reproduces the error-correcting patterns of the standard genetic code. Aspects of our model and results may be applicable to the general problem of adaptation to error in other natural information-processing systems.|