Friday Seminar; Codes within the Code: Synonymous codon optimality controls protein structure and gene expression

Our next Friday Seminar takes place in the Merton Auditorium at 11:30am on Friday 28 February.


Professor Yi Liu, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Centre


Preference for certain synonymous codons, a phenomenon called codon usage bias, is a universal feature of all genomes.

By combining genetic, molecular, biochemical and bioinformatic approaches in fungal, Drosophila and mammalian systems, we demonstrated that codon usage acts as an important mechanism that determine both protein structure and gene expression levels.

Codon usage is a major determinant of translation elongation rate and regulates protein folding by affecting the time available for co-translational process.

Genome-wide correlations between protein structures and codon usage preferences are observed in many organisms, suggesting that codon usage is a universal “code” for protein folding.

On the other hand, codon usage is a major determinant of gene expression levels by controlling transcription and translation efficiency.

Together, our results establish codon usage as major regulatory “codes” that can control multiple aspects of gene and protein expression processes.

Professor Yi Liu biography

Professor Yi Liu completed his B.S. in Genetics from Wuhan University 1989, Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University with Carl Johnson (studying circadian mechanism in cyanobacteria) 1995, Postdoc training at Dartmouth Medical School with Jay Dunlap (studying circadian clock mechanism in Neurospora) 1995-1999.

Assistant Professor University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center 1999-2004, Associate Professor 2004-2008, Professor 2008-present.

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