Biochemical Function and Homeostasis: The Payoff of the Genetic Program

  • Daniel E. Atkinson
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 241)


Design of living organisms by mutation and selection is in principle very similar to engineering design. In both cases changes are evaluated and those that are advantageous serve as the new basis for further testing of additional changes; in both cases improved function is a criterion on the basis of which changes are accepted or rejected. Thus when we deal with objects of biological origin or with objects resulting from human design our approach must be intellectually similar. It must be totally different from the approach that is appropriate when we deal with rocks, continents, or other objects of non-biological, non-designed systems. A functional object must have a design. The design need not necessarily be recorded: you could set out to build a bird house and begin with the floor and then make the sides and roof to fit. A generalized design in that case would be in your mind. However, when an object is complex or when many copies of the object are to be made, some means of recording the design is desirable. Thus we have blueprints and the like, which may themselves become extensive and elaborate. I remember reading somewhere that by the time a battleship was built the paper used for plans or blueprints of the ship and its component parts weighed about as much as the ship itself. There is probably some exaggeration in that statement, but it may not be far wrong. At any rate, the battleship would not have been able to carry a really large number of total copies of its design without foundering. It is interesting that we constantly carry around several billion copies of the total design for our bodies. If we could write our genetic information on one sheet of typing paper, one billion copies would weigh about 5,000 tons. Genetic programs are indeed pretty well miniaturized.


Genetic Program Coupling Agent Energy Charge Biochemical Function Pyruvate Carboxylase 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Atkinson, D. E. (1968). Biochemistry 7, 4030.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Atkinson, D. E., Roach, P. J. and Schwedes, J.S. (1975). Adv. Enzyme Regulation 13. (In press.)Google Scholar
  3. Barnes, L. D., McGuire, J. J. and Atkinson, D.E. (1972). Biochemistry 11, 4322.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Chapman, A G., Fall, L. and Atkinson, D. E. (1971). J. Bacteriol 108, 1072.Google Scholar
  5. Chulavatnatol, M. and Atkinson, D. E. (1973a). Biol Chem. 248, 2712.Google Scholar
  6. Chulavatnatol, M. and Atkinson, D. E. (1973b). J. Biol Chem. 248, 2716.Google Scholar
  7. Liao, C. L. and Atkinson, D. E. (1971). J. Bacteriol 106, 37.Google Scholar
  8. Miller, A L. and Atkinson, D. E. (1972). Arch. Biochem. Biophys. 152, 531.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Preiss, J. (1969). Current Topics in Cellular Regulation, eds. Horecker, B. L. and Stadtman, E. R. (New York and London: Academic Press), Volume 1, 125.Google Scholar
  10. Shen, L. C., Fall, L., Walton, G. M. and Atkinson, D. E. (1968). Biochemistry 7, 4041.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel E. Atkinson
    • 1
  1. 1.Biochemistry Division Department of ChemistryUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

Personalised recommendations