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Metabolic Pathways

After the function of a protein has been understood, it is of special interest to identify the metabolic pathways of an organism.


Part of a pathway; here enzymes are described by their classification number ( und


A metabolic pathway denotes the sequence of reactions that taken together lead from one substance to another. The reactions themselves are generally enhanced by a catalytic enzyme.


Important examples of metabolic pathways are the Citrate cycle or the Glycolysis. The sum of all paths is a metabolic pathway.



Overview of a metabolic pathway (Source: KEGG: Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes).

In addition to the metabolic pathways there are the regulatory pathways, where biological processes are controlled by different signals. With the help of a large variety of different signals and communication mechanism, the biochemical processes within an organism can be regulated.


The sum of all regulatory pathways determines the regulatory network of an organism. To analyze both metabolic  and regulatory networks using computational methods, corresponding data models are required. The computational pathway representation can be used in the process of target identification, drug design and in the search for causes of genetic disease.


In basic research these networks can be used for the comparison of metabolic processes of different organisms. E.g., information on the metabolism of one organism can be used to understand the newly sequenced genome (and, correspondingly, the metabolic pathways) of another organism.