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J Mol Recognit. 2007 Jul-Aug;20(4):205-14.

Self-organization versus Watchmaker: ambiguity of molecular recognition and design charts of cellular circuitry.

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Buck Institute for Age Research, 8001 Redwood Blvd., Novato, CA 94945, USA.


A large body of experimental evidence indicates that the specific molecular interactions and/or chemical conversions depicted as links in the conventional diagrams of cellular signal transduction and metabolic pathways are inherently probabilistic, ambiguous and context-dependent. Being the inevitable consequence of the dynamic nature of protein structure in solution, the ambiguity of protein-mediated interactions and conversions challenges the conceptual adequacy and practical usefulness of the mechanistic assumptions and inferences embodied in the design charts of cellular circuitry. It is argued that the reconceptualization of molecular recognition and cellular organization within the emerging interpretational framework of self-organization, which is expanded here to include such concepts as bounded stochasticity, evolutionary memory, and adaptive plasticity offers a significantly more adequate representation of experimental reality than conventional mechanistic conceptions do. Importantly, the expanded framework of self-organization appears to be universal and scale-invariant, providing conceptual continuity across multiple scales of biological organization, from molecules to societies. This new conceptualization of biological phenomena suggests that such attributes of intelligence as adaptive plasticity, decision-making, and memory are enforced by evolution at different scales of biological organization and may represent inherent properties of living matter.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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