Linguistic features of noncoding DNA sequences

Phys Rev Lett. 1994 Dec 5;73(23):3169-72. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.73.3169.


We extend the Zipf approach to analyzing linguistic texts to the statistical study of DNA base pair sequences and find that the noncoding regions are more similar to natural languages than the coding regions. We also adapt the Shannon approach to quantifying the "redundancy" of a linguistic text in terms of a measurable entropy function, and demonstrate that noncoding regions in eukaryotes display a smaller entropy and larger redundancy than coding regions, supporting the possibility that noncoding regions of DNA may carry biological information.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Codon, Nonsense*
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • DNA, Fungal
  • DNA, Helminth
  • DNA, Viral
  • Eukaryotic Cells
  • Genetic Code*
  • Humans
  • Language*
  • Linguistics*
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA*
  • Statistics as Topic


  • Codon, Nonsense
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • DNA, Fungal
  • DNA, Helminth
  • DNA, Viral