RNA (New York, N.Y.)

Different types of secondary information in the genetic code.

PMID 24935971


Whole-genome and functional analyses suggest a wealth of secondary or auxiliary genetic information (AGI) within the redundancy component of the genetic code. Although there are multiple aspects of biased codon use, we focus on two types of auxiliary information: codon-specific translational pauses that can be used by particular proteins toward their unique folding and biased codon patterns shared by groups of functionally related mRNAs with coordinate regulation. AGI is important to genetics in general and to human disease; here, we consider influences of its three major components, biased codon use itself, variations in the tRNAome, and anticodon modifications that distinguish synonymous decoding. AGI is plastic and can be used by different species to different extents, with tissue-specificity and in stress responses. Because AGI is species-specific, it is important to consider codon-sensitive experiments when using heterologous systems; for this we focus on the tRNA anticodon loop modification enzyme, CDKAL1, and its link to type 2 diabetes. Newly uncovered tRNAome variability among humans suggests roles in penetrance and as a genetic modifier and disease modifier. Development of experimental and bioinformatics methods are needed to uncover additional means of auxiliary genetic information.