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degenerate code

The degenerate code, also known as the redundancy of the genetic code, refers to the fact that multiple codons, or sets of three nucleotides, can code for the same amino acid during protein synthesis. In other words, the genetic code is said to be degenerate because different codons can encode for the same amino acid, but no codon can encode for more than one amino acid.

For example, there are 64 possible codons that can be formed from combinations of the four nucleotides (A, T/U, G, and C), but there are only 20 different amino acids that are used to build proteins. Therefore, multiple codons can code for the same amino acid, and some amino acids are coded for by as many as six different codons.

The degeneracy of the genetic code provides some degree of protection against mutations in the DNA sequence, as changes to one or two nucleotides in a codon can still result in the same amino acid being incorporated into the protein. Additionally, the degenerate code can also contribute to the efficiency of protein synthesis, as it allows multiple tRNA molecules with different anticodons to recognize and bind to the same codon on the mRNA strand.

The degenerate code has also been shown to play a role in the evolution of new proteins and in the development of gene families. For example, mutations that introduce new codons for a particular amino acid can result in the formation of new genes that encode slightly different proteins, leading to the evolution of new functions or adaptations.

Overall, the degenerate code is an important aspect of the genetic code that allows for the efficient and flexible synthesis of proteins and has important implications for understanding the evolution and function of genes and proteins.


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