writes: "Digging through a washington post article (found via digg), I came across this little surprising statement:
Earlier this year, however, a study in Science showed that these synonymous spellings can make a difference. That's because it can be harder to make a protein from the instruction with the unusual, but synonymous, spelling. The construction process takes longer, and the final protein folds up differently. It has a slightly different shape — and a different function. Synonymous mutations are those that produce exactly the same string of amino acids for a gene, and so have been though to only be used as an "error robust" system, so that important proteins still function as usual in the presence of errors. This finding is a contradiction to that, where a "redundant" change in the DNA still affects the behaviour of the final product. In this case, the mutations are happening in a gene that contributes to the multi-drug resistant behaviour of cancer cells.
The abstract for the paper they seem to be referring to can be found here."