Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Model of 'near-optimal' genetic code developed

Date:
August 28, 2013
Source:
New York University
Summary:
Researchers have created a model that may explain the complexities of the origins of life. Their work offers new insights into how RNA signaling likely developed into the modern "genetic code."

Rendering of DNA molecule (stock image).
Credit: ermess / Fotolia

Researchers have created a model that may explain the complexities of the origins of life. Their work, which appears in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, offers new insights into how RNA signaling likely developed into the modern "genetic code."

Related Articles


"Our model shows that today's genetic code probably resulted from a combination of selective forces and random chance," explained Justin Jee, a doctoral student at NYU School of Medicine and the paper's lead author.

The study's other co-authors included: Bud Mishra, who has appointments at NYU's Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences and the Sackler Institute of Graduate Biomedical Sciences at NYU School of Medicine; Andrew Sundstrom of the Courant Institute; and Steven Massey, an assistant professor in the University of Puerto Rico's Department of Biology.

The researchers sought to account for the composition of the genetic code, which allows proteins to be built from amino acids with high specificity based on information stored in a RNA or DNA genome. This translation process between the nucleic acids and amino acids is remarkably and mysteriously universal; the same code is shared in all organisms from bacteria to human beings. At the same time, the genetic code is nearly, but not completely, optimal in terms of how "good" it is at specifying particular amino acids for particular nucleic acid sequences.

Since the code's discovery in the 1960's, researchers have wondered: how is it that a near-optimal code became so universal?

To address this question, the researchers created a model of genetic code evolution in which multiple "translating" RNAs and "genomic" RNAs competed for survival. Specifically, the translating RNAs were able to link amino acids together based on information stored in genomic RNA, but with varying levels of specificity.

In running computer simulations of RNA interactions, they could see two phenomena. First, it was necessary for the translating and genomic RNAs to organize into cells, which aided the coordination of a code between the translating and genomic RNAs. Second, selective forces led a single set of translating RNAs to dominate the population. In other words, the emergence of a single, universal, near-optimal code was a natural outcome of the model. Even more remarkably, the results occurred under realistic conditions -- specifically, they held under parameters such as protein lengths and rates of mutation that likely existed in a natural RNA world.

"The most elegant ideas in this paper are rather obvious consequences of a well-studied model based on sender-receiver games," noted Mishra, the paper's senior author. "Yet the results are still very surprising because they suggest, for example, that proteins, the most prized molecules of biology, might have had their origin as undesirable toxic trash. Other studies based on phylogenomic analysis seem to be coming to similar conclusions independently."

This research was funded by National Science Foundation grants CCF-0836649 and CCF-0926166 as well as by a National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship from the U.S. Department of Defense.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by New York University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. J. Jee, A. Sundstrom, S. E. Massey, B. Mishra. What can information-asymmetric games tell us about the context of Crick's 'frozen accident'? Journal of The Royal Society Interface, 2013; 10 (88): 20130614 DOI: 10.1098/rsif.2013.0614

Cite This Page:

New York University. "Model of 'near-optimal' genetic code developed." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 August 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130828144800.htm>.
New York University. (2013, August 28). Model of 'near-optimal' genetic code developed. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130828144800.htm
New York University. "Model of 'near-optimal' genetic code developed." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130828144800.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Research on Bats Could Help Develop Drugs Against Ebola

Research on Bats Could Help Develop Drugs Against Ebola

AFP (Nov. 28, 2014) In Africa's only biosafety level 4 laboratory, scientists have been carrying out experiments on bats to understand how virus like Ebola are being transmitted, and how some of them resist to it. Duration: 01:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 27, 2014) A British palaeontologist has discovered a new species of dinosaur while studying fossils in a Canadian museum. Pentaceratops aquilonius was related to Triceratops and lived at the end of the Cretaceous Period, around 75 million years ago. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) Tryptophan, a chemical found naturally in turkey meat, gets blamed for sleepiness after Thanksgiving meals. But science points to other culprits. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Reuters - Entertainment Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) The iconic piano from "Casablanca" and the Cowardly Lion suit from "The Wizard of Oz" fetch millions at auction. Sara Hemrajani reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins