Correspondence insights into the role of genes in cell functionality. Comments on "The gene: An appraisal" by K. Baverstock

Prog Biophys Mol Biol. 2021 Dec;167:152-160. doi: 10.1016/j.pbiomolbio.2021.09.006. Epub 2021 Oct 6.


One of the most important goals of the post-genomic era is to understand the different sources of molecular information that regulate the functional and structural architecture of cells. In this regard, Prof. K. Baverstock underscores in his recent article "The gene: An appraisal" (Baverstock, 2021) that genes are not the leading elements in cellular functionality, inheritance and evolution. As a consequence, the theory of evolution based on the Neo-Darwinian synthesis, is inadequate for today's scientific evidence. Conversely, the author contends that life processes viewed on the basis of thermodynamics, complex system dynamics and self-organization provide a new framework for the foundations of Biology. I consider it necessary to comment on some essential aspects of this relevant work, and here I present a short overview of the main non-genetic sources of biomolecular order and complexity that underline the molecular dynamics and functionality of cells. These sources generate different processes of complexity, which encompasses from the most elementary levels of molecular activity to the emergence of systemic behaviors, and the information necessary to sustain them is not contained in the genome.

Keywords: Cellular migration; Dissipative structures; Epigenetic memory; Hopfield dynamics; Information processing; Metabolic processes; Self-organization.

Publication types

  • Letter
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Physiological Phenomena*
  • Databases, Genetic
  • Genome*
  • Thermodynamics