Studies of codon usage and tRNA genes of 18 unicellular organisms and quantification of Bacillus subtilis tRNAs: gene expression level and species-specific diversity of codon usage based on multivariate analysis

Gene. 1999 Sep 30;238(1):143-55. doi: 10.1016/s0378-1119(99)00225-5.


We examined codon usage in Bacillus subtilis genes by multivariate analysis, quantified its cellular levels of individual tRNAs, and found a clear constraint of tRNA contents on synonymous codon choice. Individual tRNA levels were proportional to the copy number of the respective tRNA genes. This indicates that the tRNA gene copy number is an important factor to determine in cellular tRNA levels, which is common with Escherichia coli and yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Codon usage in 18 unicellular organisms whose genomes have been sequenced completely was analyzed and compared with the composition of tRNA genes. The 18 organisms are as follows: yeast S. cerevisiae, Aquifex aeolicus, Archaeoglobus fulgidus, B. subtilis, Borrelia burgdorferi, Chlamydia trachomatis, E. coli, Haemophilus influenzae, Helicobacterpylori, Methanococcusjannaschii, Methanobacterium thermoautotrophicum, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Mycoplasma genitalium, Mycoplasma pneumoniae, Pyrococcus horikoshii, Rickettsia prowazekii, Synechocystis sp., and Treponema pallidum. Codons preferred in highly expressed genes were related to the codons optimal for the translation process, which were predicted by the composition of isoaccepting tRNA genes. Genes with specific codon usage are discussed in connection with their evolutionary origins and functions. The origin and terminus of replication could be predicted on the basis of codon usage when the usage was analyzed relative to the transcription direction of individual genes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Archaea / genetics
  • Bacillus subtilis / genetics*
  • Codon*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial*
  • Protein Biosynthesis
  • RNA, Transfer / genetics*
  • Replication Origin
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics
  • Species Specificity


  • Codon
  • RNA, Transfer