The Systems Biology Graphical Notation

Nicolas Le Novere, Michael Hucka, Huaiyu Mi, Stuart Moodie, Falk Schreiber, Anatoly Sorokin, Emek Demir, Katja Wegner, Mirit Aladjem, Sarala Wimalaratne, Frank Bergman, Ralph Gauges, Peter Ghazal, Hideya Kawaji, Lu Li, Yukiko Matsuoka, Alice Villeger, Sarah Boyd, Laurence Calzone, Melanie CourtotUgur Dogrusoz, Tom Freeman, Akira Funahashi, Samik Ghosh, Akiya Jouraku, Sohyoung Kim, Fedor Kolpakov, Augustin Luna, Sven Sahle, Esther Schmidt, Steven Watterson, Guanming Wu, Igor Goryanin, Douglas Kell, Chris Sander, Herbert Sauro, Jacky Snoep, Kurt Kohn, Hiroaki Kitano

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    673 Citations (Scopus)


    Circuit diagrams and Unified Modeling Language diagrams are just two examples of standard visual languages that help accelerate work by promoting regularity, removing ambiguity and enabling software tool support for communication of complex information. Ironically, despite having one of the highest ratios of graphical to textual information, biology still lacks standard graphical notations. The recent deluge of biological knowledge makes addressing this deficit a pressing concern. Toward this goal, we present the Systems Biology Graphical Notation (SBGN), a visual language developed by a community of biochemists, modelers and computer scientists. SBGN consists of three complementary languages: process diagram, entity relationship diagram and activity flow diagram. Together they enable scientists to represent networks of biochemical interactions in a standard, unambiguous way. We believe that SBGN will foster efficient and accurate representation, visualization, storage, exchange and reuse of information on all kinds of biological knowledge, from gene regulation, to metabolism, to cellular signaling.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)735-741
    JournalNature Biotechnology
    Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 7 Aug 2009


    • SBGN
    • Graphical Notation
    • Cartoon
    • Diagram


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