In this paper, the relationship between codon usage and the physiological pattern of expression of a gene is investigated while considering a dataset of 815 nuclear genes of Arabidopsis thaliana. Factorial Correspondence Analysis, a commonly used multivariate statistical approach in codon usage analysis, was used in order to analyse codon usage bias gene by gene. The analysis reveals a single major trend in codon usage among genes in Arabidopsis. At one end of the trend lie genes with a highly G/C biased codon usage. This group contains mainly photosynthetic and housekeeping genes which are known to encode the most abundant proteins of the vegetal cell. At the other extreme lie genes with a weaker A/T-biased codon usage. This group contain genes with various functions which exhibits most of the time a strong tissue-specific pattern of expression in relation, for example, to stress conditions. These observations were confirmed by the detailed analysis of codon usage in the multigene family of tubulins and appear to be general in plant species, even as distant from Arabidopsis thaliana as a monocotyledonous plant such as maize.
Copyright 1998 Elsevier Science B.V.