Genes 2 (4):998-1016 (2011)

Authors
Antoine Danchin
University of Hong Kong
Abstract
The notion of antifragility, an attribute of systems that makes them thrive under variable conditions, has recently been proposed by Nassim Taleb in a business context. This idea requires the ability of such systems to ‘tinker’, i.e., to creatively respond to changes in their environment. A fairly obvious example of this is natural selection-driven evolution. In this ubiquitous process, an original entity, challenged by an ever-changing environment, creates variants that evolve into novel entities. Analyzing functions that are essential during stationary-state life yield examples of entities that may be antifragile. One such example is proteins with flexible regions that can undergo functional alteration of their side residues or backbone and thus implement the tinkering that leads to antifragility. This in-built property of the cell chassis must be taken into account when considering construction of cell factories driven by engineering principles.
Keywords fragility  ageing  information  disorder
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