Reconstructing metabolic flux vectors from extreme pathways: defining the alpha-spectrum.

Title Reconstructing metabolic flux vectors from extreme pathways: defining the alpha-spectrum.
Year of Publication 2003
Authors S.J. Wiback; R. Mahadevan; B.Ø. Palsson
Journal PLoS Comput Biol
Abstract The move towards genome-scale analysis of cellular functions has necessitated the development of analytical (in silico) methods to understand such large and complex biochemical reaction networks. One such method is extreme pathway analysis that uses stoichiometry and thermodynamic irreversibly to define mathematically unique, systemic metabolic pathways. These extreme pathways form the edges of a high-dimensional convex cone in the flux space that contains all the attainable steady state solutions, or flux distributions, for the metabolic network. By definition, any steady state flux distribution can be described as a nonnegative linear combination of the extreme pathways. To date, much effort has been focused on calculating, defining, and understanding these extreme pathways. However, little work has been performed to determine how these extreme pathways contribute to a given steady state flux distribution. This study represents an initial effort aimed at defining how physiological steady state solutions can be reconstructed from a network's extreme pathways. In general, there is not a unique set of nonnegative weightings on the extreme pathways that produce a given steady state flux distribution but rather a range of possible values. This range can be determined using linear optimization to maximize and minimize the weightings of a particular extreme pathway in the reconstruction, resulting in what we have termed the alpha-spectrum. The alpha-spectrum defines which extreme pathways can and cannot be included in the reconstruction of a given steady state flux distribution and to what extent they individually contribute to the reconstruction. It is shown that accounting for transcriptional regulatory constraints can considerably shrink the alpha-spectrum. The alpha-spectrum is computed and interpreted for two cases; first, optimal states of a skeleton representation of core metabolism that include transcriptional regulation, and second for human red blood cell metabolism under various physiological, non-optimal conditions.
URL PubMed