DNA codes and information: formal structures and relational causes

Acta Biotheor. 2008 Sep;56(3):205-32. doi: 10.1007/s10441-008-9049-6. Epub 2008 May 9.


Recently the terms "codes" and "information" as used in the context of molecular biology have been the subject of much discussion. Here I propose that a variety of structural realism can assist us in rethinking the concepts of DNA codes and information apart from semantic criteria. Using the genetic code as a theoretical backdrop, a necessary distinction is made between codes qua symbolic representations and information qua structure that accords with data. Structural attractors are also shown to be entailed by the mapping relation that any DNA code is a part of (as the domain). In this framework, these attractors are higher-order informational structures that obviate any "DNA-centric" reductionism. In addition to the implications that are discussed, this approach validates the array of coding systems now recognized in molecular biology.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA / genetics*
  • Genetic Code / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Information Theory*
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Molecular Biology / methods
  • Molecular Biology / trends*
  • Open Reading Frames


  • DNA