Protein evolution: causes of trends in amino-acid gain and loss

Nature. 2006 Aug 24;442(7105):E11-2; discussion E12. doi: 10.1038/nature05137.


Understanding how proteins evolve is important for determining the molecular basis of adaptation, for inferring phylogenies and for engineering novel proteins. It has been suggested that some amino acids were incorporated into the genetic code more recently than others and, after comparing pairs of closely related genomes, Jordan et al. report that 'recent' amino acids are becoming more common. They argue that this process has been going on since the genetic code first evolved to encompass all 20 amino acids. Here we provide evidence that the patterns observed conform with standard, nearly neutral theoretical expectations and require no new explanation. This reinforces the need for caution in the interpretation of results derived from closely related taxa.

Publication types

  • Comment

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / genetics*
  • Amino Acids / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Bacillus / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / chemistry
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Genetic Code
  • Genome, Bacterial
  • Humans
  • Models, Genetic
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Polymorphism, Genetic / genetics
  • Proteins / chemistry*
  • Proteins / genetics*
  • Staphylococcus / genetics


  • Amino Acids
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Proteins