Impact of stoichiometry representation on simulation of genotype-phenotype relationships in metabolic networks.
Brochado, A.R., Andrejev, S., Maranas, C.D. & Patil, K.R.
PLoS Comput Biol. 2012;8(11):e1002758. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002758. Epub2012 Nov 1.
Genome-scale metabolic networks provide a comprehensive structural framework for modeling genotype-phenotype relationships through flux simulations. The solution space for the metabolic flux state of the cell is typically very large and optimization-based approaches are often necessary for predicting the active metabolic state under specific environmental conditions. The objective function to be used in such optimization algorithms is directly linked with the biological hypothesis underlying the model and therefore it is one of the most relevant parameters for successful modeling. Although linear combination of selected fluxes is widely used for formulating metabolic objective functions, we show that the resulting optimization problem is sensitive towards stoichiometry representation of the metabolic network. This undesirable sensitivity leads to different simulation results when using numerically different but biochemically equivalent stoichiometry representations and thereby makes biological interpretation intrinsically subjective and ambiguous. We hereby propose a new method, Minimization of Metabolites Balance (MiMBl), which decouples the artifacts of stoichiometry representation from the formulation of the desired objective functions, by casting objective functions using metabolite turnovers rather than fluxes. By simulating perturbed metabolic networks, we demonstrate that the use of stoichiometry representation independent algorithms is fundamental for unambiguously linking modeling results with biological interpretation. For example, MiMBl allowed us to expand the scope of metabolic modeling in elucidating the mechanistic basis of several genetic interactions in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
Improved vanillin production in baker's yeast through in silico design.
Brochado, A.R., Matos, C., Moller, B.L., Hansen, J., Mortensen, U.H. & Patil, K.R.
Microb Cell Fact. 2010 Nov 8;9(1):84.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Vanillin is one of the most widely used flavouring agents, originally obtained from cured seed pods of the vanilla orchid Vanilla planifolia. Currently vanillin is mostly produced via chemical synthesis. A de novo synthetic pathway for heterologous vanillin production from glucose has recently been implemented in baker's yeast, Saccharamyces cerevisiae. In this study we aimed at engineering this vanillin cell factory towards improved productivity and thereby at developing an attractive alternative to chemical synthesis. RESULTS: Expression of a glycosyltransferase from Arabidopsis thaliana in the vanillin producing S. cerevisiae strain served to decrease product toxicity. An in silico metabolic engineering strategy of this vanillin glucoside producing strain was designed using a set of stoichiometric modelling tools applied to the yeast genome-scale metabolic network. Two targets (PDC1 and GDH1) were selected for experimental verification resulting in four engineered strains. Three of the mutants showed up to 1.5-fold higher vanillin beta-D-glucoside yield in batch mode, while continuous culture of the [increment]pdc1 mutant showed a 2-fold productivity improvement. This mutant presented a 5-fold improvement in free vanillin production compared to the previous work on de novo vanillin biosynthesis in baker's yeast. CONCLUSION: Use of constraints corresponding to different physiological states was found to greatly influence the target predictions given minimization of metabolic adjustment (MOMA) as biological objective function. In vivo verification of the targets, selected based on their predicted metabolic adjustment, successfully led to overproducing strains. Overall, we propose and demonstrate a framework for in silico design and target selection for improving microbial cell factories.
Metabolic network topology reveals transcriptional regulatory signatures of type 2 diabetes.
Zelezniak, A., Pers, T.H., Soares, S., Patti, M.E. & Patil, K.R.
PLoS Comput Biol. 2010 Apr 1;6(4):e1000729.
Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is a disorder characterized by both insulin resistance and impaired insulin secretion. Recent transcriptomics studies related to T2DM have revealed changes in expression of a large number of metabolic genes in a variety of tissues. Identification of the molecular mechanisms underlying these transcriptional changes and their impact on the cellular metabolic phenotype is a challenging task due to the complexity of transcriptional regulation and the highly interconnected nature of the metabolic network. In this study we integrate skeletal muscle gene expression datasets with human metabolic network reconstructions to identify key metabolic regulatory features of T2DM. These features include reporter metabolites--metabolites with significant collective transcriptional response in the associated enzyme-coding genes, and transcription factors with significant enrichment of binding sites in the promoter regions of these genes. In addition to metabolites from TCA cycle, oxidative phosphorylation, and lipid metabolism (known to be associated with T2DM), we identified several reporter metabolites representing novel biomarker candidates. For example, the highly connected metabolites NAD+/NADH and ATP/ADP were also identified as reporter metabolites that are potentially contributing to the widespread gene expression changes observed in T2DM. An algorithm based on the analysis of the promoter regions of the genes associated with reporter metabolites revealed a transcription factor regulatory network connecting several parts of metabolism. The identified transcription factors include members of the CREB, NRF1 and PPAR family, among others, and represent regulatory targets for further experimental analysis. Overall, our results provide a holistic picture of key metabolic and regulatory nodes potentially involved in the pathogenesis of T2DM.
Uncovering transcriptional regulation of metabolism by using metabolic network topology.
Patil, K.R. & Nielsen, J.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005 Feb 22;102(8):2685-9. Epub 2005 Feb 14.
Cellular response to genetic and environmental perturbations is often reflected and/or mediated through changes in the metabolism, because the latter plays a key role in providing Gibbs free energy and precursors for biosynthesis. Such metabolic changes are often exerted through transcriptional changes induced by complex regulatory mechanisms coordinating the activity of different metabolic pathways. It is difficult to map such global transcriptional responses by using traditional methods, because many genes in the metabolic network have relatively small changes at their transcription level. We therefore developed an algorithm that is based on hypothesis-driven data analysis to uncover the transcriptional regulatory architecture of metabolic networks. By using information on the metabolic network topology from genome-scale metabolic reconstruction, we show that it is possible to reveal patterns in the metabolic network that follow a common transcriptional response. Thus, the algorithm enables identification of so-called reporter metabolites (metabolites around which the most significant transcriptional changes occur) and a set of connected genes with significant and coordinated response to genetic or environmental perturbations. We find that cells respond to perturbations by changing the expression pattern of several genes involved in the specific part(s) of the metabolism in which a perturbation is introduced. These changes then are propagated through the metabolic network because of the highly connected nature of metabolism.