Modeling cell signaling networks

Biol Cell. 2004 Jun;96(5):355-62. doi: 10.1016/j.biolcel.2004.03.004.


Cell signaling pathways interact with one another to form networks in mammalian systems. Such networks are complex in their organization and exhibit emergent properties such as bistability and ultrasensitivity. Analysis of signaling networks requires a combination of experimental and theoretical approaches including the development and analysis of models. This review focuses on theoretical approaches to understanding cell signaling networks. Using heterotrimeric G protein pathways an example, we demonstrate how interactions between two pathways can result in a network that contains a positive feedback loop and function as a switch. Different mathematical approaches that are currently used to model signaling networks are described, and future challenges including the need for databases as well as enhanced computing environments are discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biochemistry / methods*
  • Computational Biology
  • Databases as Topic
  • Diffusion
  • GTP-Binding Proteins / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Models, Biological
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Software


  • GTP-Binding Proteins