Scaling features of noncoding DNA

Physica A. 1999;273(1-2):1-18. doi: 10.1016/s0378-4371(99)00407-0.


We review evidence supporting the idea that the DNA sequence in genes containing noncoding regions is correlated, and that the correlation is remarkably long range--indeed, base pairs thousands of base pairs distant are correlated. We do not find such a long-range correlation in the coding regions of the gene, and utilize this fact to build a Coding Sequence Finder Algorithm, which uses statistical ideas to locate the coding regions of an unknown DNA sequence. Finally, we describe briefly some recent work adapting to DNA the Zipf approach to analyzing linguistic texts, and the Shannon approach to quantifying the "redundancy" of a linguistic text in terms of a measurable entropy function, and reporting that noncoding regions in eukaryotes display a larger redundancy than coding regions. Specifically, we consider the possibility that this result is solely a consequence of nucleotide concentration differences as first noted by Bonhoeffer and his collaborators. We find that cytosine-guanine (CG) concentration does have a strong "background" effect on redundancy. However, we find that for the purine-pyrimidine binary mapping rule, which is not affected by the difference in CG concentration, the Shannon redundancy for the set of analyzed sequences is larger for noncoding regions compared to coding regions.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • 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
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA / analysis
  • DNA / genetics*
  • DNA, Fungal
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Fractals*
  • Genetic Code*
  • Introns*
  • Linguistics
  • Mathematics
  • Nucleotides
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA / statistics & numerical data*


  • DNA, Fungal
  • Nucleotides
  • DNA