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Differences in codon bias cannot explain differences in translational power among microbes

BioMed Central
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  • Research Article
  • Biology
  • Computer Science
  • Mathematics

Abstract ral ss BioMed CentBMC Bioinformatics Open AcceResearch article Differences in codon bias cannot explain differences in translational power among microbes Les Dethlefsen*1,2 and Thomas M Schmidt1 Address: 1Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan 48824, USA and 2Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Stanford University, Palo Alto, California 94304, USA Email: Les Dethlefsen* - [email protected]; Thomas M Schmidt - [email protected] * Corresponding author Abstract Background: Translational power is the cellular rate of protein synthesis normalized to the biomass invested in translational machinery. Published data suggest a previously unrecognized pattern: translational power is higher among rapidly growing microbes, and lower among slowly growing microbes. One factor known to affect translational power is biased use of synonymous codons. The correlation within an organism between expression level and degree of codon bias among genes of Escherichia coli and other bacteria capable of rapid growth is commonly attributed to selection for high translational power. Conversely, the absence of such a correlation in some slowly growing microbes has been interpreted as the absence of selection for translational power. Because codon bias caused by translational selection varies between rapidly growing and slowly growing microbes, we investigated whether observed differences in translational power among microbes could be explained entirely by differences in the degree of codon bias. Although the data are not available to estimate the effect of codon bias in other species, we developed an empirically- based mathematical model to compare the translation rate of E. coli to the translation rate of a hypothetical strain which differs from E. coli only by lacking codon bias. Results: Our reanalysis of data from the scientific literature suggests that translational power can differ by a factor of 5 or more

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