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The Enterobacteriaceae are a large family of Proteobacteria that include many well-known prokaryotic genera, such as Escherichia, Yersinia and Salmonella. The main ideas of synonymous codon usage (CU) evolution and translational selection have been deeply influenced by studies with these bacterial groups. In this work we report the analysis of the CU pattern of completely sequenced bacterial genomes that belong to the Enterobacteriaceae. The effect of selection in translation acting at the levels of speed and accuracy, and phylogenetic trends within this group are described. Preferred (optimal) codons were identified. The evolutionary dynamics of these codons were studied and following a Bayesian approach these preferences were traced back to the common ancestor of the family. We found that there is some level of variation in selection among the analysed micro-organisms that is probably associated with lineage-specific trends. The codon bias was largely conserved across the evolutionary time of the family in highly expressed genes and protein conserved regions, suggesting a major role of negative selection. In this sense, the results support the idea that the extant CU bias is finely tuned over the ancestral well-conserved pool of tRNAs.


Andrés Iriarte, Juan Diego Baraibar, Héctor Romero, Susana Castro-Sowinski, Héctor Musto. Evolution of optimal codon choices in the family Enterobacteriaceae. Microbiology (Reading, England). 2013 Mar;159(Pt 3):555-64

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PMID: 23288542

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