Exploring local structural organization of metabolic networks using subgraph patterns

Young Ho Eom, Soojin Lee, Hawoong Jeong

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28 Scopus citations


Metabolic networks of many cellular organisms share global statistical features. Their connectivity distributions follow the long-tailed power law and show the small-world property. In addition, their modular structures are organized in a hierarchical manner. Although the global topological organization of metabolic networks is well understood, their local structural organization is still not clear. Investigating local properties of metabolic networks is necessary to understand the nature of metabolism in living organisms. To identify the local structural organization of metabolic networks, we analysed the subgraphs of metabolic networks of 43 organisms from three domains of life. We first identified the network motifs of metabolic networks and identified the statistically significant subgraph patterns. We then compared metabolic networks from different domains and found that they have similar local structures and that the local structure of each metabolic network has its own taxonomical meaning. Organisms closer in taxonomy showed similar local structures. In addition, the common substrates of 43 metabolic networks were not randomly distributed, but were more likely to be constituents of cohesive subgraph patterns.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)823-829
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Theoretical Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 21 Aug 2006


  • Metabolic network
  • Network motif


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