Transfer RNA (tRNA) is the adaptor molecule that mediates recognition of the codon sequence in mRNA and enables its translation into the appropriate amino acid. Accordingly, phylogenetic relationships among tRNA genes are often thought to recapitulate the evolution of the genetic code. However, it has been demonstrated experimentally that one tRNA gene can be replaced with a copy of another carrying a single mutation in its anticodon sequence. In this article, we show that such 'gene recruitment' has occurred recently and repeatedly in the mitochondrial genome of the demosponge Axinella corrugata and appears to be a common phenomenon in the evolution of the tRNA multigene family.
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