Design of a directed molecular network

Gonen Ashkenasy, Reshma Jagasia, Maneesh Yadav, M. Reza Ghadiri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

128 Scopus citations


An ability to rationally design complex networks from the bottom up can offer valuable quantitative model systems for use in gaining a deeper appreciation for the principles governing the self-organization and functional characteristics of complex systems. We report herein the de novo design, graph prediction, experimental analysis, and characterization of simple self-organized, nonlinear molecular networks. Our approach makes use of the sequence-dependant auto- and cross-catalytic functional characteristics of template-directed peptide fragment condensation reactions in neutral aqueous solutions. Starting with an array of 81 sequence similar 32-residue coiled-coil peptides, we estimated the relative stability difference between all plausible A2B-type coiled-coil ensembles and used this information to predict the auto- and cross-catalysis pathways and the resulting plausible network motif and connectivities. Similar to most complex systems, the generated graph displays clustered nodes with an overall hierarchical architecture. To test the validity of the design principles used, nine nodes composing a main segment of the graph were experimentally analyzed for their capacity in establishing the predicted network connectivity. The resulting self-organized chemical network is shown to display 25 directed edges in good agreement with the graph analysis estimations. Moreover, we show that by varying the system parameters (presence or absence of certain substrates or templates), its operating network motif can be altered, even to the extremes of turning pathways on or off. We suggest that this approach can be expanded for the construction of large-scale networks, offering a means to study and to understand better the emergent, collective behaviors of networks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10872-10877
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number30
StatePublished - 27 Jul 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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