Theory Inspired by Gene Assembly in Ciliates

  • Grzegorz Rozenberg
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 4094)


Ciliates (ciliated protozoa) are unicellular organisms with an evolutionary history that extends back perhaps two billion (2 x 109) years. The unique extraordinary feature of ciliates is that they posses two kinds of nuclei within the same cell: macronucleus containing genes that provide the genetic information needed to maintain the structure and function of the cell, and micronucleus that does not contribute to the maintainance, growth and proliferation of the cell – it is reserved for the sexual exchange of DNA between two mating cells.

When ciliates are starved they may mate. At some stage during sexual reproduction a micronucleus develops into a new macronucleus. This process of transformation of the micronuclear genome into the macronuclear genome, called gene assembly, is perhaps the most involved process of DNA manipulation yet known in living organisms. It is fascinating from both the biological and computational point of view.

The computational nature of gene assembly has attracted much attention in recent years and considerable body of theory has been developed. This theory involves, among others, novel kinds of string and graph rewriting systems, novel sorts of graphs as well as new questions about various known graph families, and novel topics in the combinatorics of words. In our talk we will survey some of the main developments of this theory.


Living Organism Genetic Information Mating Cell Considerable Body Gene Assembly 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Grzegorz Rozenberg
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Computer ScienceUniversity of Colorado at BoulderBoulderU.S.A.
  2. 2.Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science (LIACS)Leiden UniversityLeidenThe Netherlands

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