The bulletin of mathematical biophysics

, Volume 23, Issue 4, pp 393–403 | Cite as

On the role of chemical systems in the microphysical aspects of primary genetic mechanisms

  • Robert Rosen


It is pointed out that two fundamentally different views of primary genetic processes occur in the literature which are frequently confused. The first is a true communication-theoretic view, which regards the genetic apparatus as containing a real information-source and a transducer which converts that information to useful form. The second view is generally expressed as a template scheme based on the Watson-Crick model; it is shown that in this model there is actually no such thing as genetic information in a communication-theoretic sense. Both views are then discussed on the basis of microphysical principles developed in previous work of the author (Bull. Math. Biophysics,22, 227–255, 1960) in an attempt to find which approach is in closer accord with the biological facts. It is shown that, if the communication-theoretic view is correct, then the information-bearing object must act as a “catalyst,” but it is pointed out that the type of catalysis involved must be of a fundamentally different nature than that occurring in familiar enzyme-catalyzed reactions. On the basis of general considerations of irreversible changes in microphysical measuring systems, it is shown that any type of template must suffer a gradual and irreversible denaturation, which seems to make it unlikely that a template could play a primary role in fundamental genetic processes.


Template Model Template Theory Maxwell Demon Template Scheme Primary Gene Product 
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Copyright information

© University of Chicago 1961

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Rosen
    • 1
  1. 1.The University of ChicagoCommittee on Mathematical BiologyChicagoUSA

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