Alabama-Auburn collaboration leads to discovery of a novel genetic code in hemichordates

hemichordateHemichordates are a group of work-like animals closely related to our own phylum. A new collaborative study between the Kocot lab and the Halanych lab at Auburn University analyzed the mitochondrial genomes of this evolutionary important lineage. Contrary to the current understanding of the mitochondrial genetic code,  comparative analyses suggest that UAA encodes tyrosine instead of a “stop” codon in some hemichordates and that AAA encodes lysine, contradicting the previous assumption that hemichordates share the same genetic code with echinoderms where AAA encodes asparagine.