Can complex cellular processes be governed by simple linear rules?

Kumar Selvarajoo, Masaru Tomita, Masa Tsuchiya

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Complex living systems have shown remarkably well-orchestrated, self-organized, robust, and stable behavior under a wide range of perturbations. However, despite the recent generation of high-throughput experimental datasets, basic cellular processes such as division, differentiation, and apoptosis still remain elusive. One of the key reasons is the lack of understanding of the governing principles of complex living systems. Here, we have reviewed the success of perturbation-response approaches, where without the requirement of detailed in vivo physiological parameters, the analysis of temporal concentration or activation response unravels biological network features such as causal relationships of reactant species, regulatory motifs, etc. Our review shows that simple linear rules govern the response behavior of biological networks in an ensemble of cells. It is daunting to know why such simplicity could hold in a complex heterogeneous environment. Provided physical reasons can be explained for these phenomena, major advancement in the understanding of basic cellular processes could be achieved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-268
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Bioinformatics and Computational Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Complex processes
  • Mass-action response
  • Perturbation-response approaches
  • Simple governing rules
  • Systems biology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Computer Science Applications


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