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PLoS Biol. 2008 Jun 17;6(6):e146. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.0060146.

Dynamics and design principles of a basic regulatory architecture controlling metabolic pathways.

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1
Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California, United States of America.

Abstract

The dynamic features of a genetic network's response to environmental fluctuations represent essential functional specifications and thus may constrain the possible choices of network architecture and kinetic parameters. To explore the connection between dynamics and network design, we have analyzed a general regulatory architecture that is commonly found in many metabolic pathways. Such architecture is characterized by a dual control mechanism, with end product feedback inhibition and transcriptional regulation mediated by an intermediate metabolite. As a case study, we measured with high temporal resolution the induction profiles of the enzymes in the leucine biosynthetic pathway in response to leucine depletion, using an automated system for monitoring protein expression levels in single cells. All the genes in the pathway are known to be coregulated by the same transcription factors, but we observed drastically different dynamic responses for enzymes upstream and immediately downstream of the key control point-the intermediate metabolite alpha-isopropylmalate (alphaIPM), which couples metabolic activity to transcriptional regulation. Analysis based on genetic perturbations suggests that the observed dynamics are due to differential regulation by the leucine branch-specific transcription factor Leu3, and that the downstream enzymes are strictly controlled and highly expressed only when alphaIPM is available. These observations allow us to build a simplified mathematical model that accounts for the observed dynamics and can correctly predict the pathway's response to new perturbations. Our model also suggests that transient dynamics and steady state can be separately tuned and that the high induction levels of the downstream enzymes are necessary for fast leucine recovery. It is likely that principles emerging from this work can reveal how gene regulation has evolved to optimize performance in other metabolic pathways with similar architecture.

PMID:
18563967
PMCID:
PMC2429954
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pbio.0060146
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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