Concepts relating the behavior of biochemical systems to their underlying molecular properties

Michael A. Savageau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

97 Scopus citations


The concepts of amplification, parameter sensitivity, and feedback effectiveness in biochemical systems are presented and explored using a method of mathematical analysis previously developed for biochemical systems. These are properties of the intact system that can in no way be determined solely by experiments on the individual parts or reactions that comprise the system. These properties are important because they are functions only of the parameter values of the system, and thus may be used to characterize the system for comparative purposes. Furthermore, since these properties are independent of the concentration variables, they may be used to predict the behavior of the system over a wide range of conditions that would alter these concentrations. Empirical findings are also presented in support of this conclusion. Finally, and of most importance, these properties enable us to relate knowledge at one level of organization in biochemical systems to that at another. This is because the values of these properties can be predicted, using this theory, from knowledge of the component parts of the system, and they may also be obtained from direct measurements in the intact system. These two results must agree if the system is properly understood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)612-621
Number of pages10
JournalArchives of Biochemistry and Biophysics
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1971
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Biophysics
  • Molecular Biology

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