Complexity transmission during replication

B. K. Davis
1979 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America  
The transmission of complexity during DNA replication has been investigated to clarify the significance of this molecular property in a deterministic process. Complexity was equated with the amount of randomness within an ordered molecular structure and measured by the entropy of a posteriori probabilities for discrete (monomer sequences, atomic bonds) and continuous (torsion angle sequences) structural parameters in polynucleotides, proteins, and ligand molecules. A theoretical analysis
more » ... d that sequence complexity decreases during transmission from DNA to protein. It was also found that sequence complexity limits the attainable complexity in the folding of a polypeptide chain and that a protein cannot interact with a ligand moiety of higher complexity. The analysis indicated, furthermore, that in any deterministic molecular process a cause possesses more complexity than its effect. This outcome broadly complies with Curie's symmetry principle. Results from an analysis of an extensive set of experimental data are presented; they corroborate these findings. It is suggested, therefore, that complexity governs the direction of order-order molecular transformations. Two biological implications are (i) replication of DNA in a stepwise, repetitive manner by a polymerase appears to be a necessary consequence of structural constraints imposed by complexity, and (ii) during evolution, increases in complexity had to involve a nondeterministic mechanism. This latter requirement apparently applied also to development of the first replicating system on earth.
doi:10.1073/pnas.76.5.2288 pmid:287070 pmcid:PMC383584 fatcat:2fucmvneuvbybmg43olyo3buie