What can information-asymmetric games tell us about the context of Crick's 'frozen accident'?

Justin Jee, Andrew Sundstrom, Steven E. Massey, Bud Mishra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This paper describes a novel application of information-asymmetric (signalling) games to molecular biology in which utility is determined by the message complexity (rate) in addition to the error in information transfer (distortion). We show using a computational model how it is possible for the agents in one such game to evolve a signalling convention (separating equilibrium) that is suboptimal in terms of information transfer, but is nonetheless stable. In the context of an RNA world merging with a nascent amino acid one, such a game's equilibrium is alluded to by the genetic code, which is nearly optimal in terms of information transfer, but is also near-universal and nearly immutable. Such a framework suggests that cellularity may have emerged to encourage coordination between RNA species and sheds light on other aspects of RNA world biochemistry yet to be fully understood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of the Royal Society Interface
Issue number88
StatePublished - Nov 6 2013



  • Genetic code
  • Information-asymmetric games
  • RNA world
  • Signalling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biophysics
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering

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