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Science. 2009 Sep 18;325(5947):1544-9. doi: 10.1126/science.1174671.

Three-dimensional structural view of the central metabolic network of Thermotoga maritima.

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  • 1Joint Center for Molecular Modeling (JCMM), Burnham Institute for Medical Research, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.


Metabolic pathways have traditionally been described in terms of biochemical reactions and metabolites. With the use of structural genomics and systems biology, we generated a three-dimensional reconstruction of the central metabolic network of the bacterium Thermotoga maritima. The network encompassed 478 proteins, of which 120 were determined by experiment and 358 were modeled. Structural analysis revealed that proteins forming the network are dominated by a small number (only 182) of basic shapes (folds) performing diverse but mostly related functions. Most of these folds are already present in the essential core (approximately 30%) of the network, and its expansion by nonessential proteins is achieved with relatively few additional folds. Thus, integration of structural data with networks analysis generates insight into the function, mechanism, and evolution of biological networks.

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