Codon usage in the G+C-rich Streptomyces genome

Gene. 1992 Apr 1;113(1):55-65. doi: 10.1016/0378-1119(92)90669-g.


The codon usage (CU) patterns of 64 genes from the Gram+ prokaryotic genus Streptomyces were analysed. Despite the extremely high overall G+C content of the Streptomyces genome (estimated at 0.74), individual genes varied in G+C content from 0.610 to 0.797, and had third codon position G+C contents (GC3s) that varied from 0.764 to 0.983. The variation in GC3s explains a significant proportion of the variation in CU patterns. This is consistent with an evolutionary model of the Streptomyces genome where biased mutation pressure has led to a high average G+C content with random variation about the mean, although the variation observed is greater than that expected from a simple binomial model. The only gene in the sample that can be confidently predicted to be highly expressed, EF-Tu of Streptomyces coelicolor A3(2) (GC3s = 0.927), shows a preference for a third position C in several of the four codon families, and for CGY and GGY for Arg and Gly codons, respectively (Y = pyrimidine); similar CU patterns are found in highly expressed genes of the G+C-rich Micrococcus luteus genome. It thus appears that codon usage in Streptomyces is determined predominantly by mutation bias, with weak translational selection operating only in highly expressed genes. We discuss the possible consequences of the extreme codon bias of Streptomyces and consider how it may have evolved. A set of CU tables is provided for use with computer programs that locate protein-coding regions.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Base Composition
  • Biological Evolution
  • Codon / genetics*
  • Cytosine
  • Genes, Bacterial
  • Genome, Bacterial*
  • Guanine
  • Mutation
  • Software
  • Species Specificity
  • Streptomyces / genetics*


  • Codon
  • Guanine
  • Cytosine