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We know there are four bases found in a DNA: adenine (A), cytosine (C), guanine (G), and thymine (T). We also know that A always pairs with T and G always pairs with C. Can we say that the DNA is coded binary with two options: AT and GC?

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  • $\begingroup$ Your question is not about either genes or the genetic code, so I have removed these tags. $\endgroup$
    – David
    Nov 4, 2023 at 19:04
  • $\begingroup$ Please explain what you mean by “base code”. It is not a term that means anything to me as a molecular biologist. And then how such a thing (or apparently things are “in DNA”. I have answered your question from what seems a fair interpretation of it. But I really don’t know. And what do you mean by “coded binary”? Does this have a meaning in informatics or have you invented it by analogy with its use in terms of sexual relationships? Please rewrite your question, clarifying these points. $\endgroup$
    – David
    Nov 4, 2023 at 19:41

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Can we say that the DNA is coded binary with two options: AT and GC?

Sort of, but really in one aspect. DNA is double stranded. It is replicated by splitting the strands apart and generating two new molecules using the existing strands as a template. The binary pairing you point out guarantees that the two new DNA molecules will be faithful copies of the original molecule.

However, replication is only one aspect of DNA. Translation is the conversion of DNA -> mRNA -> protein. Generation of the mRNA from DNA is also governed by the binary pairing, (except that mRNA uses Uracil, so an A in the DNA will be paired with a U in the corresponding mRNA). However, when it comes to generating a protein from the mRNA, each possible triplet of mRNA bases (which corresponds to a triplet of DNA bases) codes to one particular amino acid in the protein. It's this correspondence between triplets of mRNA bases (and the underlying DNA bases) and amino acids that's referred to as the genetic code.

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This does not appear to be a question about biology but a semantic question in the realm of information technology. However, the answer is NO.

First, linguistically I would never use the word “coded” to describe or specify the sequence of DNA — which is what the poster appears to wish to do — any more than I would use the word to do likewise for proteins (I would not say that “a protein is coded by 20 amino acids”). The use of the word is poor — you can say “RNA is coded by DNA”. (I prefer to say “DNA encodes RNA”, as it is a single word that only exists as a verb.) But “DNA is composed of four different bases”. Keep the two ideas (template and composition) separate.

From a computational standpoint one can say that a DNA sequence can be described or specified using four characters and hence represented most compactly as a number to the base 4 — a quaternary number. NOT a binary number.

The fact that the poster’s logic is incorrect is simply demonstrated: the single strand of a DNA with the sequence ATGC is not the same as AAGC, TAGC, TTGC, ATGG, ATCG, ATCG etc.

The logical flaw is in an implicit assumption that because the sequence of the second strand is specified unambiguously by that of the first strand this somehow influences the numerical complexity of the first strand. It does not.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks David. Quote: the single strand of a DNA with the sequence ATGC is not the same as AAGC, TAGC, TTGC, ATGG, ATCG, ATCG etc. My question is exactly how is it even possible to have AAGC sequence when we know that A always pairs with T. $\endgroup$ Nov 4, 2023 at 20:54
  • $\begingroup$ Unless it is the case that when talk about ATGC sequence, we are actually talking about the bases on the one side of the DNA, that is complimentary to the TACG sequence on the other side of the DNA. I'm sorry about my poor terminology, I'm quite a stranger in this field. $\endgroup$ Nov 4, 2023 at 20:59
  • $\begingroup$ I saw this and everything is clear now: youtube.com/watch?v=dijqYyFY1GM $\endgroup$ Nov 4, 2023 at 21:06

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