Journal of Molecular Evolution

, Volume 44 , Issue 5 , pp 473 -476

First online:

An Analysis of the Metabolic Theory of the Origin of the Genetic Code

  • Ramin  AmirnovinAffiliated withDepartment of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093-0506, USA

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A computer program was used to test Wong's coevolution theory of the genetic code. The codon correlations between the codons of biosynthetically related amino acids in the universal genetic code and in randomly generated genetic codes were compared. It was determined that many codon correlations are also present within random genetic codes and that among the random codes there are always several which have many more correlations than that found in the universal code. Although the number of correlations depends on the choice of biosynthetically related amino acids, the probability of choosing a random genetic code with the same or greater number of codon correlations as the universal genetic code was found to vary from 0.1% to 34% (with respect to a fairly complete listing of related amino acids). Thus, Wong's theory that the genetic code arose by coevolution with the biosynthetic pathways of amino acids, based on codon correlations between biosynthetically related amino acids, is statistical in nature.

Key words: Coevolution theory — Genetic code — Codon correlations — Biosynthetically related amino acids