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New Phytol. 2005 Oct;168(1):9-24.

Regulation of metabolic networks: understanding metabolic complexity in the systems biology era.

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1
Department of Plant Sciences, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3RB, UK. Lee.sweetlove@plants.ox.ac.uk

Abstract

Metabolism is one of the best recognised networks within biological systems, but our understanding of metabolic regulation has been limited by a failure to consider regulation within the context of the whole network. With recent advances in theoretical aspects of network thinking and a postgenomic landscape in which our ability to quantify molecular changes at a systems level is unsurpassed, the time is ripe for the development of a new level of understanding of the regulation of plant metabolic networks. Theoretical advances such as the formal description of 'scale-free' networks have provided explanations for network behaviour (such as robustness). In parallel, the appreciation of the importance of new levels of the metabolic regulatory hierarchy (such as protein-protein interaction) and the continuing development of global profiling technologies is generating a system-wide molecular data set of increasing resolution. In this review we will argue that the integration of these different aspects of metabolic research will bring about a step change in our understanding of the regulation of metabolic networks in plants.

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