Isomorphism between cell and human languages: Molecular biological, bioinformatic and linguistic implications

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The concept of cell language has been defined in molecular terms. The molecule-based cell language is shown to be isomorphic with the sound- and visual signal-based human language with respect to ten out of the 13 design features of human language characterized by Hockett. Biocybernetics, a general molecular theory of living systems developed over the past two and a half decades, is found to provide a physical theory underlying the phenomenon of cell language. The concept of cell language integrates bioenergetics and bioinformatics on the one hand and reductionistic and holistic experimental data on the other to account for living processes on the molecular level. The isomorphism between cell and human languages suggests that the DNA of higher eucaryotes contains two classes of genes - structural genes corresponding to the lexicon and 'spatiotemporal genes' corresponding to the grammar of cell language. The former is located in coding regions of DNA and the latter is predicted to reside primarily in noncoding regions. The grammar of cell language is identified with the mapping of the nucleotide sequences of DNA onto its 4-dimensional folding patterns that control the spatiotemporal evolution of gene expression. Such a mapping has been referred to as the second genetic code, in contrast to the first genetic code which maps nucleotide triplets onto amino acids. The cell language theory introduces into biology the linguistic principle of 'rule-governed creativity', leading to the formulation of the concept of 'rule-governed creative molecules' or 'creatons.' This concept sheds new light on molecular biology, bioinformatics, protein folding, and developmental biology. In addition, the cell language theory suggests that human language is ultimately founded on cell language.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17-39
Number of pages23
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Applied Mathematics


  • Biocybernetics
  • Bioinformatics
  • Cell language
  • Grammar of cell language
  • Rule-governed creatons
  • Second genetic code

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