Reassignment of sense codons in vivo

A. James Link, David A. Tirrell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations


The genetic code maps one or more of the 61 sense codons onto a set of 20 canonical amino acids. Reassignment of sense codons to non-canonical amino acids in model organisms such as Escherichia coli has been achieved through manipulation of the cellular protein synthesis machinery. Specifically, control of amino acid pools, coupled with engineering of the aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase activity of the host, has enabled assignment of sense codons to a wide variety of non-canonical amino acids under conditions routinely used for expression of recombinant proteins. Codon reassignment is leading to important advances in protein engineering and bioorganic chemistry. Here we summarize some of those advances, and provide detailed protocols for codon reassignment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)291-298
Number of pages8
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2005
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • Molecular Biology


  • Aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases
  • Aminoacylation
  • Codon degeneracy
  • Non-canonical amino acids


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