The Nature and Role of Theory in Metabolic Control

  • Athel Cornish-Bowden
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (NSSA, volume 190)


Current discussion of metabolic control is dominated by the theory developed from the landmark papers of Kacser & Burns (1973), and Heim-ich & Rapoport (1974), which built on earlier work of Higgins (1963, 1965). Although the main ideas in this theory have become much more widely accepted by biochemists as a whole in the past few years, acceptance is far from universal, and criticisms have come from various directions. Some of these are set out and discussed in other chapters of this book, but in order to form a judgement, whether about the usefulness of metabolic control theory for analysing real metabolic systems or about its status as a special case of biochemical systems theory (Savageau, 1969ab, 1970, 1976), as it is categorized by Savageau et al. (1987 ab, 1989), one needs to have a general view of what a scientific theory is and what role it has to play in science, particularly in experimental science. In this introductory chapter, therefore, I plan to discuss these questions, with the hope of providing a context in which the claims of metabolic control theory as a legitimate theory can be discussed. Elsewhere (Cornish-Bowden, 1989) I have discussed the criticisms of metabolic control theory made by Savageau and his colleagues (Savageau et al.,1987ab) in a specific way, and will not repeat the arguments in detail here; rather I shall use metabolic control as a context for discussing in general what a theory


Metabolic Control Hill Equation Introductory Chapter Legitimate Theory Tetrameric Protein 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Athel Cornish-Bowden
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre de Biochimie et de Biologie MoléculaireCentre National de la Recherche ScientifiquMarseilleFrance

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