Codon usage bias and base composition of nuclear genes in Drosophila

E. N. Moriyama, D. L. Hartl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

127 Scopus citations


The nuclear genes of Drosophila evolve at various rates. This variation seems to correlate with codon-usage bias. In order to elucidate the determining factors of the various evolutionary rates and codon-usage bias in the Drosophila nuclear genome, we compared patterns of codon-usage bias with base compositions of exons and introns. Our results clearly show the existence of selective constraints at the translational level for synonymous (silent) sites and, on the other hand, the neutrality or near neutrality of long stretches of nucleotide sequence within noncoding regions. These features were found for comparisons among nuclear genes in a particular species (Drosophila melanogaster, Drosophila pseudoobscura and Drosophila virilis) as well as in a particular gene (alcohol dehydrogenase) among different species in the genus Drosophila. The patterns of evolution of synonymous sites in Drosophila are more similar to those in the prokaryotes than they are to those in mammals. If a difference in the level of expression of each gene is a main reason for the difference in the degree of selective constraint, the evolution of synonymous sites of Drosophila genes would be sensitive to the level of expression among genes and would change as the level of expression becomes altered in different species. Our analysis verifies these predictions and also identifies additional selective constraints at the translational level in Drosophila.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)847-858
Number of pages12
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1993
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics


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