Menzerath's law at the gene-exon level in the human genome

Authors

  • Wentian Li

    Corresponding author
    1. The Robert S. Boas Center for Genomics and Human Genetics, The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, North Shore LIJ Health System, Manhasset, 350 Community Drive, New York 11030
    • The Robert S. Boas Center for Genomics and Human Genetics, The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, North Shore LIJ Health System, Manhasset, 350 Community Drive, New York 11030
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Abstract

A previous discussion of a linguistic law called Menzerath's law (the longer a word, the shorter the syllables) in the genomic context was focused on the genome-chromosome-base level (the more number of chromosomes in a genome, the smaller the chromosome size). We apply this linguistic metaphor to more appropriate levels of gene, exon, and base. Using the human gene data, we found that the Menzerath's law at these levels holds true: the more number of exons in a gene, the shorted the averaged exon size. Since this negative correlation can be a trivial consequence of the constant size of the messenger RNA coded by the gene, we also exclude this possibility by showing that messenger RNA size increases with the number of exons. This increase of messenger RNA size is however not fast enough for genes with large number of exons to maintain a constant exon size. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Complexity, 2011.

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