Self-organization and entropy reduction in a living cell

Biosystems. 2013 Jan;111(1):1-10. doi: 10.1016/j.biosystems.2012.10.005. Epub 2012 Nov 15.


In this paper we discuss the entropy and information aspects of a living cell. Particular attention is paid to the information gain on assembling and maintaining a living state. Numerical estimates of the information and entropy reduction are given and discussed in the context of the cell's metabolic activity. We discuss a solution to an apparent paradox that there is less information content in DNA than in the proteins that are assembled based on the genetic code encrypted in DNA. When energy input required for protein synthesis is accounted for, the paradox is clearly resolved. Finally, differences between biological information and instruction are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cells / metabolism*
  • DNA / genetics*
  • Entropy*
  • Genetic Code / physiology*
  • Information Theory*
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Probability
  • Protein Biosynthesis / physiology*
  • Proteins / genetics*
  • Thermodynamics


  • Proteins
  • DNA