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Curr Opin Struct Biol. 2003 Apr;13(2):193-202.

Biological networks.

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  • 1Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, 1 Cyclotron Road MS Calvin, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.


Recent advances in high-throughput methods have provided us with a first glimpse of the overall structure of molecular interaction networks in biological systems. Ultimately, we expect that such information will change how we think about biological systems in a fundamental way. Instead of viewing the genetic parts list of an organism as a loose collection of biochemical activities, in the best case, we anticipate discrete networks of function to bridge the gap between genotype and phenotype, and to do so in a more profound way than the current qualitative classification of linked reactions into familiar pathways, such as glycolysis and the MAPK signal transduction cascades. At the present time, however, we are still far from a complete answer to the most basic question: what can we learn about biology by studying networks? Promising steps in this direction have come from such diverse approaches as mathematical analysis of global network structure, partitioning networks into functionally related modules and motifs, and even de novo design of networks. A complete picture will probably require integrating the data obtained from all of these approaches with modeling efforts at many different levels of detail.

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