Send to

Choose Destination
Metab Eng. 2004 Jan;6(1):85-100.

New stable isotope-mass spectrometric techniques for measuring fluxes through intact metabolic pathways in mammalian systems: introduction of moving pictures into functional genomics and biochemical phenotyping.

Author information

Department of Nutritional Sciences and Toxicology, University of California at Berkeley, 309 Morgon Hall, Berkeley, CA 94720-3104, USA.


The thesis of this review is that fully assembled metabolic pathways in living systems, rather than genes or proteins, are the true units of function in biology and biochemistry. A corollary is that measurement of metabolic fluxes (biochemical kinetics) is thereby required to understand biochemical control and gene function. Recent methodologic advances for improving observability of metabolic pathway fluxes in vivo are reviewed. Stable isotope-mass spectrometric techniques discussed here include mass isotopomer distribution analysis (combinatorial analysis), for measurement of polymerization biosynthesis; 2H(2)O administration, for measuring synthesis of DNA (i.e., cell proliferation), RNA, proteins, lipids, glycolipids and other classes of molecules; non-invasive probes of intracellular metabolism, by sampling secreted metabolites in accessible body fluids, after isotopic labeling of the intracellular pathway; and measurement of multiple molecular fluxes concurrently, particularly through use of 2H(2)O. Examples are given of pathway fluxes measured by each of these techniques, noting the often-surprising results. It is concluded that the introduction of "moving pictures" as tools for biochemical phenotyping could radically alter many signature areas of contemporary biology, including functional genomics, drug discovery and development, and disease research.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center