The genetic code is a set of rules that governs the translation of the genetic information present in DNA into proteins. The significance of the genetic code in protein synthesis is that it determines the sequence of amino acids in a protein, which ultimately determines its structure and function.
Four important characteristics of the genetic code are:
Universality: The genetic code is nearly universal, meaning that it is shared by almost all organisms on Earth. This suggests that the code evolved early in the history of life and has been conserved over time.
Triplet nature: The genetic code is composed of triplets of nucleotides called codons. Each codon specifies a particular amino acid or a stop signal.
- Degeneracy: There are 64 possible codons, but only 20 amino acids and three stop signals. This means that some amino acids are specified by more than one codon, giving the genetic code a degree of redundancy or degeneracy.
- Non-overlapping and commaless: The codons are read sequentially without any overlap, and there is no punctuation or gap between adjacent codons. This ensures that the code is read correctly and that each amino acid is added to the growing protein chain in the correct order.