What is systems biology? From genes to function and back
The essence of the grand contributions of physiology and molecular biology to biology is discussed in relation to what may be needed to understand living systems. Unanswered is the link between function and molecular behaviour, and emergence of function from the nonlinear interactions, respectively. Systems biology should focus on properties that emerge in nonlinear interactions from the molecular level up, which are crucial for biological function. Pre-genomics approaches such as Metabolic and Hierarchical Control Analysis have already contributed concepts and conclusions to systems biology. Their combination with the genome-wide analyses should now lead to substantial progress in the understanding of life. An aspect of biology at odds with traditional physics and chemistry is the circular causation that occurs in all living systems. By analyzing this phenomenon quantitatively, systems biology can already deal with certain types of circular causation by dissection.
KeywordsSymmetry Breaking System Biology Control Coefficient Macroscopic State Metabolic Control Analysis
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