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Prog Biophys Mol Biol. 2004 Jun-Jul;85(2-3):235-60.

Reaction kinetics in intracellular environments with macromolecular crowding: simulations and rate laws.

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  • 1Centre for Mathematical Biology, Mathematical Institute, Oxford, UK. schnell@maths.ox.ac.uk


We review recent evidence illustrating the fundamental difference between cytoplasmic and test tube biochemical kinetics and thermodynamics, and showing the breakdown of the law of mass action and power-law approximation in in vivo conditions. Simulations of biochemical reactions in non-homogeneous media show that as a result of anomalous diffusion and mixing of the biochemical species, reactions follow a fractal-like kinetics. Consequently, the conventional equations for biochemical pathways fail to describe the reactions in in vivo conditions. We present a modification to fractal-like kinetics following the Zipf-Mandelbrot distribution which will enable the modelling and analysis of biochemical reactions occurring in crowded intracellular environments.

Copyright 2004 Elsevier Ltd.

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