Molecular and Cellular Enzymology

Volume 13 of the series Progress in Molecular and Subcellular Biology pp 81-99

Microbial and Genetic Approaches to the Study of Structure-Function Relationships of Proteins

  • Frédéric BarrasAffiliated withDepartment of Molecular Microbiology, LCB-CNRS
  • , Marie-Claude KilhofferAffiliated withLaboratoire de Biophysique, Faculté de Pharmacie, Université Louis Pasteur
  • , Isabelle Bortoli-GermanAffiliated withDepartment of Molecular Microbiology, LCB-CNRS
  • , Jacques HaiechAffiliated withDepartment of Proteins of Signal Transduction, LCB-CNRS

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Two opposite attitudes have been adopted by biologists in their efforts at deciphering biological processes. The reductionist approach is based on the idea that increasing the knowledge about each component of the process studied inevitably increases the understanding of the whole process. The holistic approach aims at studying the process as a whole. The first approach is favored by biochemists and biophysicists, while the second is followed by cell biologists and systematicians. A limitation of the former is that it seldom takes into account the complexity of interactions within the broader context of the cell. An intrinsic limitation of the latter lies in its global view of events which precludes targeted modification of a cellular pathway. Fortunately, this dual view is becoming less pertinent to the description of biological investigations, and the advent of techniques of molecular biology has been particularly helpful in this regard.