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Cost-Minimization of Amino Acid Usage

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The negative correlation between the frequencies of usage of amino acids and their biosynthetic cost suggests that organisms minimize costs of protein biosynthesis. Empirical results support that: (1) free-living organisms (Archaea, Bacteria, and Eucaryota) minimize the usage of heavy amino acids more than intracellular organisms (viruses, chloroplasts, and mitochondria), a result confirmed by comparing intracellular Bacteria with other Bacteria; (2) avoidance of amino acids with low impact on protein structure (Chou-Fasman indices) is greater than for those with equal molecular weight but greater structural impact: constraints on protein function limit cost-minimization; (3) amino acid weight minimization (WM) for a protein correlates positively with the protein's expression level and with its size; (4) preliminary results suggest that for different proteins, the evolutionary rate of amino acid replacements correlates negatively with WM in these proteins; (5) results suggest that WM decreases with genome-size; and (6) developmental rates correlate positively with WM (within primates and rodents), even after confounding factors were accounted for. Effects of biosynthetic cost-minimization at whole-organism levels vary with metabolic and ecological strategies. Biosynthetic cost-minimization is an adaptive hypothesis that yields a semi-mechanistic explanation for small differences in allele fitness.

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Seligmann, H. Cost-Minimization of Amino Acid Usage . J Mol Evol 56, 151–161 (2003).

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