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BMC Syst Biol. 2007 Jan 31;1:10.

In silico pathway reconstruction: Iron-sulfur cluster biogenesis in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

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  • 1Departament de Ciencies Mediques Basiques, Universidad de Lleida, Montserrat Roig 2, 25008 Lleida, Spain.



Current advances in genomics, proteomics and other areas of molecular biology make the identification and reconstruction of novel pathways an emerging area of great interest. One such class of pathways is involved in the biogenesis of Iron-Sulfur Clusters (ISC).


Our goal is the development of a new approach based on the use and combination of mathematical, theoretical and computational methods to identify the topology of a target network. In this approach, mathematical models play a central role for the evaluation of the alternative network structures that arise from literature data-mining, phylogenetic profiling, structural methods, and human curation. As a test case, we reconstruct the topology of the reaction and regulatory network for the mitochondrial ISC biogenesis pathway in S. cerevisiae. Predictions regarding how proteins act in ISC biogenesis are validated by comparison with published experimental results. For example, the predicted role of Arh1 and Yah1 and some of the interactions we predict for Grx5 both matches experimental evidence. A putative role for frataxin in directly regulating mitochondrial iron import is discarded from our analysis, which agrees with also published experimental results. Additionally, we propose a number of experiments for testing other predictions and further improve the identification of the network structure.


We propose and apply an iterative in silico procedure for predictive reconstruction of the network topology of metabolic pathways. The procedure combines structural bioinformatics tools and mathematical modeling techniques that allow the reconstruction of biochemical networks. Using the Iron Sulfur cluster biogenesis in S. cerevisiae as a test case we indicate how this procedure can be used to analyze and validate the network model against experimental results. Critical evaluation of the obtained results through this procedure allows devising new wet lab experiments to confirm its predictions or provide alternative explanations for further improving the models.

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