Kinetic proofreading: a new mechanism for reducing errors in biosynthetic processes requiring high specificity

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1974 Oct;71(10):4135-9. doi: 10.1073/pnas.71.10.4135.


The specificity with which the genetic code is read in protein synthesis, and with which other highly specific biosynthetic reactions take place, can be increased above the level available from free energy differences in intermediates or kinetic barriers by a process defined here as kinetic proofreading. A simple kinetic pathway is described which results in this proofreading when the reaction is strongly but nonspecifically driven, e.g., by phosphate hydrolysis. Protein synthesis, amino acid recognition, and DNA replication, all exhibit the features of this model. In each case, known reactions which otherwise appear to be useless or deleterious complications are seen to be essential to the proofreading function.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Amino Acids / metabolism
  • DNA Replication*
  • Genetic Code*
  • Kinetics*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Protein Biosynthesis*
  • RNA, Transfer / metabolism


  • Amino Acids
  • RNA, Transfer