Bacteriophages use an expanded genetic code on evolutionary paths to higher fitness

February 2nd, 2014 by Michael J Hammerling

Nature Chemical Biology 10, 178 (2014). doi:10.1038/nchembio.1450

Authors: Michael J Hammerling, Jared W Ellefson, Daniel R Boutz, Edward M Marcotte, Andrew D Ellington & Jeffrey E Barrick

Bioengineering advances have made it possible to fundamentally alter the genetic codes of organisms. However, the evolutionary consequences of expanding an organism's genetic code with a noncanonical amino acid are poorly understood. Here we show that bacteriophages evolved on a host that incorporates 3-iodotyrosine at the amber stop codon acquire neutral and beneficial mutations to this new amino acid in their proteins, demonstrating that an expanded genetic code increases evolvability.

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