Current Genetics

, Volume 20, Issue 5, pp 353–358 | Cite as

Codon usage is imposed by the gene location in the transcription unit

  • Marie-Odile Delorme
  • Alain Hénaut
Original Articles


A characteristic profile of the fluctuations of codon usage is observed in bacteriophages and mitochondria. By following the DNA in the direction of transcription, one moves slowly from a region where selective pressure favours codons ending with C to a region where the bias is in favour of codons ending with T; then, abruptly, one again enters a region of codons ending in C. The transcription end point takes place in the area of abrupt change in codon usage. By comparing Drosophila yakuba and mouse mitochondrial genomes, it is possible to show that the strategy of codon usage for a given gene depends on its location along the transcription unit and not on the encoded protein. The choice of codons ending in T or C allows large scale variations of DNA stability which could regulate the speed of propagation of the RNA polymerase.

Key words

Codon usage Transcription unit Gene location RNA polymerase 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marie-Odile Delorme
    • 1
  • Alain Hénaut
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre de Génétique MoléculaireLaboratoire propre du CNRS associé à l'Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris VIGif-sur-Yvette CédexFrance

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