Codon usage biases are found in all genomes and influence protein expression levels. The codon usage effect on protein expression was thought to be mainly due to its impact on translation. Here, we show that transcription termination is an important driving force for codon usage bias in eukaryotes. Using Neurospora crassa as a model organism, we demonstrated that introduction of rare codons results in premature transcription termination (PTT) within open reading frames and abolishment of full-length mRNA. PTT is a wide-spread phenomenon in Neurospora, and there is a strong negative correlation between codon usage bias and PTT events. Rare codons lead to the formation of putative poly(A) signals and PTT. A similar role for codon usage bias was also observed in mouse cells. Together, these results suggest that codon usage biases co-evolve with the transcription termination machinery to suppress premature termination of transcription and thus allow for optimal gene expression.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)