Codon Table Tool

This codon table tool provides the standard genetic code, along with mitochondrial and nuclear genetic codes for various species, including vertebrates and invertebrates. A codon is a sequence of three nucleotides in DNA or RNA that specifies an amino acid or stop signal during protein synthesis. The tool translates these codons into amino acid sequences, offering a detailed reference for different genetic codes.

Amino Acid Codon Table

Amino Acid Codon Table

Codons coding for different amino acids than the standard are highlighted in yellow.

Related Calculators

Codons are like you’ve created a unique cipher to send secret messages to your friends, using numbers or symbols to represent letters. Your friend needs to know the cipher’s rules to decode your message accurately.

In the biological world, decoding is crucial for gene expression, where genetic information is translated into proteins. This codon table explains the genetic code, the system that translates DNA and RNA sequences into amino acids, the fundamental components of proteins.

From Genes to Proteins

Genes that encode proteins are expressed through a two-step process:

  1. Transcription: The DNA sequence of a gene is transcribed into RNA. In eukaryotes, this RNA undergoes further modifications to become messenger RNA (mRNA).
  2. Translation: The mRNA sequence is translated into a sequence of amino acids, forming a polypeptide (protein chain).

Understanding these processes is key to grasping how genetic information is utilized within cells.

The Role of Codons

Cells interpret mRNAs by reading nucleotide sequences in sets of three, known as codons. Here’s a breakdown of codon features:

  • Most codons correspond to specific amino acids.
  • Three stop codons signal the end of protein synthesis.
  • The start codon (AUG) signals the beginning of protein synthesis and codes for methionine.

During translation, the mRNA is read from the 5′ to the 3′ end, dictating the sequence of amino acids from the initial methionine (N-terminus) to the end of the chain (C-terminus).

The Codon Table: A Genetic Blueprint

The genetic code is summarized in our above codon table, mapping each three-letter mRNA sequence to its corresponding amino acid or stop signal. For instance:

  • AUG → Methionine (Start)
  • UUU → Phenylalanine
  • UGA → Stop

This table reveals the genetic code’s redundancy, where multiple codons can encode the same amino acid. The genetic code’s universality means that, with few exceptions, all organisms use the same code to synthesize proteins.

Differences in Genetic Codes Across Genomes

While the genetic code is largely universal, there are some variations across different organisms, particularly between nuclear and mitochondrial genomes, most of which has been highlighted in our above codon table.

Nuclear Genome

The nuclear genome of an organism contains the majority of its genetic material. The genetic code used in the nuclear genome is what we typically refer to as the “standard” genetic code. This code is remarkably consistent across all forms of life, reflecting its fundamental role in biology.

Mitochondrial Genome

Mitochondria, the powerhouses of the cell, have their own distinct genetic material. Mitochondrial genomes can use slightly different genetic codes. For example:

  • Vertebrate Mitochondrial Code: In the mitochondria of vertebrates, the codon UGA, which is a stop codon in the standard code, codes for the amino acid tryptophan (Trp) instead.
  • Invertebrate Mitochondrial Code: In some invertebrates, the codon AGA and AGG, which are typically arginine (Arg) in the standard code, are stop codons.

These differences highlight the evolutionary adaptations and the distinct functional requirements of mitochondrial proteins compared to their nuclear counterparts.

Importance of Reading Frames

Accurate protein synthesis requires correct reading frames. The reading frame determines how the mRNA sequence is divided into codons. Here’s an example to illustrate the impact of reading frames:

  • mRNA sequence: 5′-CGGAUGCUAGCU-3′

Depending on the starting point, different reading frames yield different amino acid sequences:

  • Frame 1: CGG AUG CUA GCU → Arg-Met-Leu-Ala
  • Frame 2: C GGA UGC UAG CU → Gly-Cys-Stop
  • Frame 3: CG GAU GCU AGC U → Asp-Ala-Ser

Mutations that add or remove nucleotides can shift the reading frame, potentially resulting in incorrect protein production.

Understanding the genetic code is fundamental to biology, providing insights into how genetic information directs the synthesis of proteins. This knowledge is essential for fields ranging from molecular biology to genetic engineering, helping us comprehend and manipulate the molecular mechanisms of life.

By exploring the genetic code, we gain a deeper appreciation of the intricate processes that sustain life, unlocking new possibilities for scientific and medical advancements.