Power Laws in Biological Networks

Eivind Almaas and Albert-László Barabási* Abstract

The rapidly developing theory of complex networks indicates that real networks are not random, but have a highly robust large-scale architecture, governed by strict organizational principles. Here, we focus on the properties of biological networks, discussing their scale-free and hierarchical features. We illustrate the major network characteristics using examples from the metabolic network of the bacterium Escherichia coli. We also discuss the principles of network utilization, acknowledging that the interactions in a real network have unequal strengths. We study the interplay between topology and reaction fluxes provided by flux-balance analysis. We find that the cellular utilization of the metabolic network is both globally and locally highly inhomogeneous, dominated by "hot-spots", representing connected high-flux pathways.

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