2002
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Network Medicine

Life’s complexity pyramid

Abstract
Cells and microorganisms have an impressive capacity for adjusting their intracellular machinery in response to changes in their environment, food availability, and developmental state. Add to this an amazing ability to correct internal errors — battling the effects of such mistakes as mutations or misfolded proteins — and we arrive at a major issue of contemporary cell biology: our need to comprehend the staggering complexity, versatility, and robustness of living systems. Although molecular biology offers many spectacular successes, it is clear that the detailed inventory of genes, proteins, and metabolites is not sufficient to understand the cell’s complexity (1). As demonstrated by two papers in this issue—Lee et al. (2) on page 799 and Milo et al. (3) on page 824—viewing the cell as a network of genes and proteins offers a viable strategy for addressing the complexity of living systems.

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