DNA Codes and Information: Formal Structures and Relational Causes
Biologic Institute, Redmond, WA 98052, USA.Acta Biotheoretica (Impact Factor: 0.7). 06/2008; 56(3):205-32. DOI: 10.1007/s10441-008-9049-6
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.
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ABSTRACT: The goal of genome-wide association studies is to identify SNPs unique to disease. It usually involves a single sampling from subjects' lifetimes. While primary DNA sequence variation influences gene-expression levels, expression is also influenced by epigenetics, including the 'somatic epitype' (G(SE)), an epigenotype acquired postnatally. While genes are inherited, and novel polymorphisms do not routinely appear, G(SE) is fluid. Furthermore, G(SE) could respond to environmental factors (such as heavy metals) and to differences in exercise, maternal care and dietary supplements - all of which postnatally modify oxidation or methylation of DNA, leading to altered gene expression. Change in epigenetic status may be critical for the development of many diseases. We propose a 'longitudinal epigenome-wide association study', wherein G(SE) are measured at multiple time points along with subjects' histories. This Longitudinal epigenome-wide association study, based on the 'dynamic' somatic epitype over the 'static' genotype, merits further investigation.
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