Editors' ChoiceRNA Stability

Codon optimality at genome transition

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Science  12 Aug 2016:
Vol. 353, Issue 6300, pp. 661-662
DOI: 10.1126/science.353.6300.661-g

Nucleotide triplets, or codons, designate specific amino acids for protein synthesis. However, that is not their only job. In yeast and bacteria, codons contribute to RNA stability, with “optimal” codons stabilizing RNAs and “suboptimal” codons destabilizing RNAs. This is possible because multiple codons can encode the same amino acid. Bazzini et al. now demonstrate that codon usage in zebrafish, frogs, mice, and flies can affect transcript degradation and polyadenylation at the critical stage in development when transcription switches from the maternal to the zygotic genome. Furthermore, enriching genes with nonoptimal codons can reduce translation efficiency.

EMBO J. 10.15252/embj.201694699 (2016).

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