Kinetic reconstruction and analysis of sphingolipid metabolism

Lipids are major constituents of the cell. They are responsible for major properties of the cellular membranes: hydrophobicity, selective permeability and being the scaffold of signaling proteins. Many diseases are associated with alterations in the lipid distribution in the cell and the composition of membrane domains. Metabolic syndrome, obesity, atherosclerosis, as well as Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s diseases and cancer, have an impact in the levels of lipids, with observed alterations in their concentrations compared to the healthy state. Applying computational techniques along with systematic modeling of lipid metabolism can provide insights that can guide biomedical research and develop potential strategies for prevention and cure. In the present study we developed a comprehensive model of the sphingolipid biosynthesis in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Sphingolipids are one of the four major lipid categories, along with (glycero)phospholipids, sterols and fatty acids synthesized in the yeast S. cerevisiae. The importance of sphingolipids present in any higher eukaryote has been demonstrated in many recent studies. For this study, S. cerevisiae has been chosen as a model organism due to its high homology of cellular processes with mammalian cells. The developed model will be an essential part towards the construction of a detailed kinetic model of the whole lipidome of the cell. We first constructed a stoichiometric model that contains all the currently known reactions for the biosynthesis of ceramides and complex sphingolipids in the yeast. Additionally, we have accounted for all five reported hydroxylation states, along with the reactions synthesizing the necessary precursor metabolites from other lipid pathways (i.e. palmitate-CoA from fatty acid synthesis and phosphatidylinositol from the phospholipids metabolism). We next developed a kinetic model and we used a large number of lipidomic measurements of wild type yeast to consistently calibrate our model. Curation of the kinetic information of the model came from the comprehensive mining of references for operation of the enzymes as well as ranges of kinetic parameters from online databases. These datasets created the pool for a sampling technique that accounts for the uncertainty in the parameters of the model. This lead to a robust dynamic model, containing mass balances for all the components of the biochemical network as well as terms that accounted for the dillution of these molecules in the cell due to growth. We performed a thorough kinetic analysis of the system by examining the impact of different assumptions in enzyme operation on the levels of ceramides and complex sphingolipids (e.g. substrate competition, (un)competitive inhibition). By applying the principles of Metabolic Control Analysis (MCA) we were able to quantify the effect of enzyme activities on the lipid profiles and we identified enzymes of the biochemical reaction network as efficient targets for metabolic engineering towards a desired state. We also applied a reverse engineering method and we were able to identify enzyme perturbations responsible for an observed altered state compared to the wild type cellular lipidomic profile. Such an approach could lead to the identification of genetic mutations by imploring the information containd within metabolomic measurements. Although we demonstrate the application of the method in models of lipid metabolism it is possible to be applied to biochemical systems of various parts of metabolism and sizes creating a modular platform for kinetic analysis of cellular operations.

Presented at:
Metabolic Engineering X Conference, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, June 15-19, 2014


 Record created 2014-10-31, last modified 2018-03-17

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