On malleability in the genetic code
To explain now-numerous cases of codon reassignment (departure from the “universal” code), we suggest a pathway in which the transformed codon is temporarily ambiguous. All the unusual tRNA activities required have been demonstrated. In addition, the repetitive use of certain reassignments, the phylogenetic distribution of reassignments, and the properties of present-day reassigned tRNAs are each consistent with evolution of the code via an ambiguous translational intermediate.
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