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The signal-response characteristics of a living cell are determined by complex networks of interacting genes, proteins, and metabolites. Understanding how cells respond to specific challenges, how these responses are contravened in diseased cells, and how to intervene pharmacologically in the decision-making processes of cells requires an accurate theory of the information-processing capabilities of macromolecular regulatory networks. Adopting an engineer's approach to control systems, we ask whether realistic cellular control networks can be decomposed into simple regulatory motifs that carry out specific functions in a cell. We show that such functional motifs exist and review the experimental evidence that they control cellular responses as expected.

Original publication

DOI

10.1146/annurev.physchem.012809.103457

Type

Journal article

Journal

Annu Rev Phys Chem

Publication Date

2010

Volume

61

Pages

219 - 240

Keywords

Animals, Cell Physiological Phenomena, Feedback, Gene Regulatory Networks, Humans, Metabolic Networks and Pathways, Models, Biological, Proteins, Signal Transduction