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The usage of alternative synonymous codons in the completely sequenced, extremely A+T-rich parasite Plasmodium falciparum was studied. Confirming previous studies obtained with less than 3% of the total genes recently described, we found that A- and U-ending triplets predominate but translational selection increases the frequency of a subset of codons in highly expressed genes. However, some new results come from the analysis of the complete sequence. First, there is more variation in GC3 than previously described; second, the effect of natural selection acting at the level of translation has been analysed with real expression data at 4 different stages and third, we found that highly expressed proteins increment the frequency of energetically less expensive amino acids. The implications of these results are discussed.
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