Journal article

Thermodynamics-based Metabolite Sensitivity Analysis in metabolic networks

The increasing availability of large metabolomics datasets enhances the need for computational methodologies that can organize the data in a way that can lead to the inference of meaningful relationships. Knowledge of the metabolic state of a cell and how it responds to various stimuli and extracellular conditions can offer significant insight in the regulatory functions and how to manipulate them. Constraint based methods, such as Flux Balance Analysis (FBA) and Thermodynamics-based flux analysis (TFA), are commonly used to estimate the flow of metabolites through genome-wide metabolic networks, making it possible to identify the ranges of flux values that are consistent with the studied physiological and thermodynamic conditions. However, unless key intracellular fluxes and metabolite concentrations are known, constraint-based models lead to underdetermined problem formulations. This lack of information propagates as uncertainty in the estimation of fluxes and basic reaction properties such as the determination of reaction directionalities. Therefore, knowledge of which metabolites, if measured, would contribute the most to reducing this uncertainty can significantly improve our ability to define the internal state of the cell. In the present work we combine constraint based modeling, Design of Experiments (DoE) and Global Sensitivity Analysis (GSA) into the Thermodynamics-based Metabolite Sensitivity Analysis (TMSA) method. TMSA ranks metabolites comprising a metabolic network based on their ability to constrain the gamut of possible solutions to a limited, thermodynamically consistent set of internal states. TMSA is modular and can be applied to a single reaction, a metabolic pathway or an entire metabolic network. This is, to our knowledge, the first attempt to use metabolic modeling in order to provide a significance ranking of metabolites to guide experimental measurements.


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