Molecular programming takes advantage of synthetic nucleic acid biochemistry to assemble networks of reactions, in vitro, with the double goal of better understanding cellular regulation and providing information-processing capabilities to man-made chemical systems. The function of molecular circuits is deeply related to their topological structure, but dynamical features (rate laws) also play a critical role. Here we introduce a mechanism to tune the nonlinearities associated with individual nodes of a synthetic network. This mechanism is based on programming deactivation laws using dedicated saturable pathways. We demonstrate this approach through the conversion of a single-node homoeostatic network into a bistable and reversible switch. Furthermore, we prove its generality by adding new functions to the library of reported man-made molecular devices: a system with three addressable bits of memory, and the first DNA-encoded excitable circuit. Specific saturable deactivation pathways thus greatly enrich the functional capability of a given circuit topology.