Evolutionary Principles Underlying Structure and Response Dynamics of Cellular Networks

Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (volume 751)


The network view in systems biology, in conjunction with the continuing development of experimental technologies, is providing us with the key structural and dynamical features of both cell-wide and pathway-level regulatory, signaling and metabolic systems. These include for example modularity and presence of hub proteins at the structural level and ultrasensitivity and feedback control at the level of dynamics. The uncovering of such features, and the seeming commonality of some of them, makes many systems biologists believe that these could represent design principles that underpin cellular systems across organisms. Here, we argue that such claims on any observed feature requires an understanding of how it has emerged in evolution and how it can shape subsequent evolution. We review recent and past studies that aim to achieve such evolutionary understanding for observed features of cellular networks. We argue that this evolutionary framework could lead to deciphering evolutionary origin and relevance of proposed design principles, thereby allowing to predict their presence or absence in an organism based on its environment and biochemistry and their effect on its future evolution.


Metabolic Network Cellular Network Signaling Network Developmental Network Network View 
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.



We would like to thank Maureen O’Malley, Juan Poyatos, and Richard Goldstein for their useful comments on this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Systems Biology Program, College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical SciencesUniversity of ExeterExeterUK

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