Genome Informatics: The Role of DNA in Cellular Computations

James A. Shapiro
2006 Biological Theory  
Cells are cognitive entities possessing great computational power. DNA serves as a multivalent information storage medium for these computations at various time scales. Information is stored in sequences, epigenetic modifications, and rapidly changing nucleoprotein complexes. Because DNA must operate through complexes formed with other molecules in the cell, genome functions are inherently interactive and involve two-way communication with various cellular compartments. Both coding sequences
more » ... ta files) and repetitive sequences (generic formatting signals) contribute to the hierarchical systemic organization of the genome. By virtue of nucleoprotein complexes, epigenetic modifications, and natural genetic engineering activities, the genome can serve as a read-write storage system. An interactive informatic conceptualization of the genome allows us to understand the functional importance of DNA that does not code for protein or RNA structure, clarifies the essential multidirectional and systemic nature of genomic information transfer, and emphasizes the need to investigate how cellular computation operates in reproduction and evolution.
doi:10.1162/biot.2006.1.3.288 fatcat:5lun7qryoreq5oyasd6tfbvddq