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Opinion

On the evolution of the standard amino-acid alphabet

Yi Lu and Stephen Freeland*

Author Affiliations

Department of Biological Sciences, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Baltimore, MD 21250, USA

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Genome Biology 2006, 7:102  doi:10.1186/gb-2006-7-1-102

Published: 1 February 2006

Abstract

Although one standard amino-acid 'alphabet' is used by most organisms on Earth, the evolutionary cause(s) and significance of this alphabet remain elusive. Fresh insights into the origin of the alphabet are now emerging from disciplines as diverse as astrobiology, biochemical engineering and bioinformatics.