The cell as the smallest DNA-based molecular computer

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The pioneering work of Adleman (1994) demonstrated that DNA molecules in test tubes can be manipulated to perform a certain type of mathematical computation. This has stimulated a theoretical interest in the possibility of constructing DNA-based molecular computers. To gauge the practicality of realizing such microscopic computers, it was thought necessary to learn as much as possible from the biology of the living cell - presently the only known DNA-based molecular computer in existence. Here the recently developed theoretical model of the living cell (the Bhopalator) and its associated theories (e.g. cell language), principles, laws and concepts (e.g. conformons, IDS's) are briefly reviewed and summarized in the form of a set of five laws of 'molecular semiotics' (synonyms include 'microsemiotics', 'cellular semiotics', or 'cytosemiotics') - the study of signs mediating measurement, computation, and communication on the cellular and molecular levels. Hopefully, these laws will find practical applications in designing DNA-based computing systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)123-133
Number of pages11
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - Oct 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


  • Cell language
  • Cell model
  • Conformons
  • Cytosemiotics
  • Microsemiotics
  • Molecular computer
  • Molecular semiotics


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