Molecular Biologists Don't Use Zero
-- But Should!

Molecular biologists number RNA transcripts +1, +2, +3 and then to go in the other direction ... -1, -2, -3. They neglect the zero:

-3, -2, -1, +1, +2, +3
It has become pervasive! Whenever they can avoid a zero they do. Some physicists I've spoken to about this were quite shocked.

This causes trouble if one wants to identify the location of a binding site with a sequence walker, and therefore is a bad practice. For details see the definition of a coordinate system.

This is a serious pitfall in molecular information theory, see Ignoring the number Zero.

color bar Small icon for Theory of Molecular Machines: physics,
chemistry, biology, molecular biology, evolutionary theory,
genetic engineering, sequence logos, information theory,
electrical engineering, thermodynamics, statistical
mechanics, hypersphere packing, gumball machines, Maxwell's
Daemon, limits of computers

Schneider Lab

origin: 1998 Jan 02
updated: 2011 Apr 07
color bar