An approach for dividing models of biological reaction networks into functional units

M. Ederer, Eric Bullinger, E.D. Gilles, F. Allgöwer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Biological reaction networks consist of many substances and reactions between them. Like many other biological systems, they have a modular structure. Therefore, a division of a biological reaction network into smaller units highly facilitates its investigation. The authors propose an algorithm to divide an ordinary differential equation (ODE) model of a biological reaction network hierarchically into functional units. For every compound, an activity function dependent on concentration or concentration change rate is defined. After performing suitable simulations, distances between the compounds are computed by comparing the activities along the trajectories of the simulation. The distance information is used to generate a dendrogram revealing the internal structure of the reaction network. The algorithm identifies functional units in two models of different networks: catabolite repression in Escherichia coli and epidermal growth factor (EGF) signal transduction in mammalian cells.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)703-716
Number of pages14
Journal Transactions of the Society for Modelling and Simulation International
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • biological reaction networks
  • simulation
  • catabolite repression


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