Metabolic efficiency and amino acid composition in the proteomes of Escherichia coli and Bacillus subtilis

Hiroshi Akashi*, Takashi Gojobori

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

475 Scopus citations


Biosynthesis of an Escherichia coli cell, with organic compounds as sources of energy and carbon, requires approximately 20 to 60 billion high-energy phosphate bonds [Stouthamer, A. H. (1973) Antonie van Leeuwenhoek 39, 545-565]. A substantial fraction of this energy budget is devoted to biosynthesis of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. The fueling reactions of central metabolism provide precursor metabolites for synthesis of the 20 amino acids incorporated into proteins. Thus, synthesis of an amino acid entails a dual cost: energy is lost by diverting chemical intermediates from fueling reactions and additional energy is required to convert precursor metabolites to amino acids. Among amino acids, costs of synthesis vary from 12 to 74 high-energy phosphate bonds per molecule. The energetic advantage to encoding a less costly amino acid in a highly expressed gene can be greater than 0.025% of the total energy budget. Here, we provide evidence that amino acid composition in the proteomes of E. coli and Bacillus subtilis reflects the action of natural selection to enhance metabolic efficiency. We employ synonymous codon usage bias as a measure of translation rates and show increases in the abundance of less energetically costly amino acids in highly expressed proteins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3695-3700
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 19 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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