Neutral adaptation of the genetic code to double-strand coding

  • Jaromir Konecny
  • Michael Eckert
  • Michael Schöniger
  • G. Ludwig Hofacker


We lay new foundations to the hypothesis that the genetic code is adapted to evolutionary retention of information in the antisense strands of natural DNA/RNA sequences. In particular, we show that the genetic code exhibits, beyond the neutral replacement patterns of amino acid substitutions, optimal properties by favoring simultaneous evolution of proteins encoded in DNA/RNA sense-antisense strands. This is borne out in the sense-antisense transformations of the codons of every amino acid which target amino acids physicochemically similar to each other. Moreover, silent mutations in the sense strand generate conservative ones in its antisense counterpart and vice versa. Coevolution of proteins coded by complementary strands is shown to be a definite possibility, a result which does not depend on any physical interaction between the coevolving proteins. Likewise, the degree to which the present genetic code is dedicated to evolutionary sense-antisense tolerance is demonstrated by comparison with many randomized codes. Double-strand coding is quantified from an information-theoretical point of view.

Key words

Genetic code Sense-antisense coding Neutral adaptation Information content 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jaromir Konecny
    • 1
  • Michael Eckert
    • 1
  • Michael Schöniger
    • 1
  • G. Ludwig Hofacker
    • 1
  1. 1.Theoretical ChemistryTech University MunichGarchingFederal Republic of Germany

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