Compensatory ability to null mutation in metabolic networks Academic Article uri icon


  • Robustness is an inherent property of biological system. It is still a limited understanding of how it is accomplished at the cellular or molecular level. To this end, this article analyzes the impact degree of each reaction to others, which is defined as the number of cascading failures of following and/or forward reactions when an initial reaction is deleted. By analyzing more than 800 organism's metabolic networks, it suggests that the reactions with larger impact degrees are likely essential and the universal reactions should also be essential. Alternative metabolic pathways compensate null mutations, which represents that average impact degrees for all organisms are small. Interestingly, average impact degrees of archaea organisms are smaller than other two categories of organisms, eukayote and bacteria, indicating that archaea organisms have strong robustness to resist the various perturbations during the evolution process. The results show that scale-free feature and reaction reversibility contribute to the robustness in metabolic networks. The optimal growth temperature of organism also relates the robust structure of metabolic network.

publication date

  • June 1, 2009