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The genetic code appears to be largely conserved across all domains of life. Although limited deviations have been reported, Ivanova et al. used metagenomics to survey the prevalence of stop codon reassignment in naturally occurring microbial populations. Certain bacteria and bacteriophages exhibited lineage-specific recoding of their stop codons. In one specific phage, the genome was restructured into two genetic sets. One set of genes was encoded in a way that didn’t gel with the host genome and probably helped with infection. A second set of more host-compatible sequences encoded proteins expressed in the later stages of infection.
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