In transcriptional regulation, you often find that positive signals proceed by inhibiting or destroying a protein that is in turn inhibiting or destroying the effector protein. This can be seen in the retinoblastoma - E2F signalling pathway, and many others. I was wondering if there was any direct biological utility, and if so what this utility was.

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    $\begingroup$ You might be interested in reading Uri Alon's take on network motifs: doi.org/10.1038/nrg2102 $\endgroup$
    – J--
    Dec 5, 2018 at 18:19
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    $\begingroup$ This reminds me, somehow, of the Dining Philosophers Problem, which is about avoiding deadlock in distributed systems. $\endgroup$
    – jlawler
    May 4, 2019 at 20:09

1 Answer 1


This feels like a my philosophical question...

Direct regulation of proteins would have to have biological utility - such a gene has to be driven by positive selection to adapt that ability. The question is more about learning what might be driving its role.

I would hazard that protein deactivation and degradation would be important to make sure that these inhibitors could be down-regulated fast enough - if they were left to degrade via a general pathway, the specific signal would not be available for too long a time.


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