Molecular epigenesis: Distributed specificity as a break in the central dogma

Karola Stotz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


The paper argues against the central dogma and its interpretation by C. Kenneth Waters and Alex Rosenberg. I argue that certain phenomena in the regulation of gene expression provide a break with the central dogma, according to which sequence specificity for a gene product must be template derived. My thesis of 'molecular epigenesis' with its three classes of phenomena, sequence 'activation', selection', and 'creation', is exemplified by processes such as transcriptional activation, alternative cis- and trans-splicing, and RNA editing. It argues that other molecular resources share the causal role of genes; the sequence specificity for the linear sequence of any gene product is distributed between the coding sequence, cis-acting sequences, trans-acting factors, environmental signals, and the contingent history of the cell (thesis of distributed causal specificity). I conclude that the central dogma has unnecessarily restricted genetic research to the sequencing of protein-coding genes, unilinear pathway analyses, and the focus on exclusive specificity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)533-548
Number of pages16
JournalHistory and Philosophy of the Life Sciences
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Causal specificity
  • Combinatorial control
  • Distributed specificity
  • Regulated recruitment
  • Regulation of gene expression
  • Rosenberg
  • Waters


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