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Nature. 1992 Mar 12;356(6365):168-70.

Long-range correlations in nucleotide sequences.

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  • 1Center for Polymer Studies, Boston University, Massachusetts 02215.
  • 2Beth Israel Hosp, Boston, MA


DNA sequences have been analysed using models, such as an n-step Markov chain, that incorporate the possibility of short-range nucleotide correlations. We propose here a method for studying the stochastic properties of nucleotide sequences by constructing a 1:1 map of the nucleotide sequence onto a walk, which we term a 'DNA walk'. We then use the mapping to provide a quantitative measure of the correlation between nucleotides over long distances along the DNA chain. Thus we uncover in the nucleotide sequence a remarkably long-range power law correlation that implies a new scale-invariant property of DNA. We find such long-range correlations in intron-containing genes and in nontranscribed regulatory DNA sequences, but not in complementary DNA sequences or intron-less genes.

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