Qualitatively distinct phenotypes in the design space of biochemical systems

Michael A. Savageau, Rick A. Fasani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Although characterization of the genotype has undergone revolutionary advances as a result of the successful genome projects, the chasm between our understanding of a fully characterized gene sequence and the phenotypic repertoire of the organism is as broad and deep as it was in the pre-genomic era. There are two fundamental unsolved problems that provide the context for the challenges in relating genotype to phenotype. We address one of these and describe a generic method for constructing a system design space in which qualitatively distinct phenotypes can be identified and counted, their relative fitness analyzed and compared, and their tolerance to change measured.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3914-3922
Number of pages9
JournalFEBS Letters
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 17 2009


  • Biochemical systems theory
  • Fitness
  • Phage lambda gene circuitry
  • Robustness
  • System design principle
  • Tolerance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Biophysics
  • Cell Biology
  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Structural Biology


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