Channel capacity of the ribosome

Daniel A. Inafuku, Kay L. Kirkpatrick, Onyema Osuagwu, Qier An, David A. Brewster, Mayisha Zeb Nakib

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Translation is one of the most fundamental processes in the biological cell. Because of the central role that translation plays across all domains of life, the enzyme that carries out this process, the ribosome, is required to process information with high accuracy. This accuracy often approaches values near unity experimentally. In this paper, we model the ribosome as an information channel and demonstrate mathematically that this biological machine has information-processing capabilities that have not been recognized previously. In particular, we calculate bounds on the ribosome's theoretical Shannon capacity and numerically approximate this capacity. Finally, by incorporating estimates on the ribosome's operation time, we show that the ribosome operates at speeds safely below its capacity, allowing the ribosome to process information with an arbitrary degree of error. Our results show that the ribosome achieves a high accuracy in line with purely information-theoretic means.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number044404
JournalPhysical Review E
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability


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