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Metabolic flux analysis using mass spectrometry.

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Biochemical Engineering Institute, Saarland University, Saarbruecken, Germany.


Detailed knowledge on carbon flux distributions is crucial for the understanding and targeted optimization of cellular systems. Analytical methods to identify the topology of metabolic networks and to quantify fluxes through its different pathways are therefore in the core of metabolic engineering. An elegant approach for metabolic flux analysis is provided by tracer experiments. In such studies tracer substrates with stable isotopes such as 13C are applied and the labeling pattern of metabolites is subsequently measured. Detailed flux distributions can be obtained by a combination of tracer experiments and stoichiometric balancing. In recent years, mass spectrometry (MS) has emerged as an interesting method for labeling measurements in metabolic flux analysis and provided valuable insights into the cellular metabolism. The present review provides an overview on current experimental and modeling tools for metabolic flux analysis by MS. The application of MS for flux analysis is illustrated by examples from the literature for various biological systems, including bacteria, fungi, tissue cultures and in vivo studies in humans.

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