Diagrammatization of codon usage in 339 human immunodeficiency virus proteins and its biological implication

AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses. 1992 Dec;8(12):1967-76. doi: 10.1089/aid.1992.8.1967.


The occurrence frequencies of bases A (adenine), C (cytosine, G (guanine), and T (thymine) occurring in the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd codon positions in the codon usage table of viral genes for the 339 human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) proteins compiled recently have been calculated and diagrammatized. For comparison, the corresponding diagrammatic representations for the 2681 human proteins from the codon usage table for primate genes are also presented. The analyzed results based on these characteristic diagrams indicate that considerably similar features have been found between HIV and human proteins for the 1st and 2nd codon positions; i.e., they are all occupied predominantly by purine, especially base A. However, a significant difference in the 3rd codon position between HIV and human proteins has been observed; i.e., human proteins are of high C + G content and low A + G content in the 3rd codon position, whereas the case is just the opposite for HIV proteins. The biological implication of such a duality on the codon bias of HIV against human proteins is discussed. It is suggested that the 1st and 2nd codon positions can be termed as the structure-determining position, and the 3rd codon position termed as the species-determining position. The diagrammatic representation and analysis method described here possess a great potential for the study of molecular evolution from the viewpoint of the genetic code for which data have been accumulated rapidly and will continue to grow at a much faster pace.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Base Composition
  • Base Sequence
  • Codon / genetics*
  • DNA, Viral / genetics
  • HIV / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Proteins / genetics
  • Retroviridae Proteins / genetics*
  • Species Specificity


  • Codon
  • DNA, Viral
  • Proteins
  • Retroviridae Proteins