Kinetic models of metabolism that consider alternative steady-state solutions of intracellular fluxes and concentrations

Large-scale kinetic models are used for designing, predicting, and understanding the metabolic responses of living cells. Kinetic models are particularly attractive for the biosynthesis of target molecules in cells as they are typically better than other types of models at capturing the complex cellular biochemistry. Using simpler stoichiometric models as scaffolds, kinetic models are built around a steady-state flux profile and a metabolite concentration vector that are typically determined via optimization. However, as the underlying optimization problem is underdetermined, even after incorporating available experimental omics data, one cannot uniquely determine the operational configuration in terms of metabolic fluxes and metabolite concentrations. As a result, some reactions can operate in either the forward or reverse direction while still agreeing with the observed physiology. Here, we analyze how the underlying uncertainty in intracellular fluxes and concentrations affects predictions of constructed kinetic models and their design in metabolic engineering and systems biology studies. To this end, we integrated the omics data of optimally grown Escherichia coli into a stoichiometric model and constructed populations of non-linear large-scale kinetic models of alternative steady-state solutions consistent with the physiology of the E. coli aerobic metabolism. We performed metabolic control analysis (MCA) on these models, highlighting that MCA-based metabolic engineering decisions are strongly affected by the selected steady state and appear to be more sensitive to concentration values rather than flux values. To incorporate this into future studies, we propose a workflow for moving towards more reliable and robust predictions that are consistent with all alternative steady-state solutions. This workflow can be applied to all kinetic models to improve the consistency and accuracy of their predictions. Additionally, we show that, irrespective of the alternative steady-state solution, increased activity of phosphofructokinase and decreased ATP maintenance requirements would improve cellular growth of optimally grown E. coli.

Published in:
Metabolic Engineering, 52, 29-41

 Record created 2018-10-31, last modified 2020-10-24

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