Long-range correlations in nucleotide sequences

Nature. 1992 Mar 12;356(6365):168-70. doi: 10.1038/356168a0.


DNA sequences have been analysed using models, such as an n-step Markov chain, that incorporate the possibility of short-range nucleotide correlations. We propose here a method for studying the stochastic properties of nucleotide sequences by constructing a 1:1 map of the nucleotide sequence onto a walk, which we term a 'DNA walk'. We then use the mapping to provide a quantitative measure of the correlation between nucleotides over long distances along the DNA chain. Thus we uncover in the nucleotide sequence a remarkably long-range power law correlation that implies a new scale-invariant property of DNA. We find such long-range correlations in intron-containing genes and in nontranscribed regulatory DNA sequences, but not in complementary DNA sequences or intron-less genes.

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

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Introns
  • Nucleotide Mapping*
  • Regulatory Sequences, Nucleic Acid
  • Statistics as Topic


  • DNA