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J Theor Biol. 1991 Jul 21;151(2):155-67.

The rationalization of high enzyme concentration in metabolic pathways such as glycolysis.

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Institute of Molecular Biology, University of Oregon, Eugene 97403.


The cellular concentration of enzymes of some major metabolic pathways, such as glycolysis, can approach millimolarity. This concentration of enzyme can catalyze in vitro rates which are 100-fold higher than maximum pathway flux. In an attempt to understand the need for such high enzyme concentration, an artificial metabolic pathway of five enzymes (apropos the central enzymes of glycolysis) has been modeled. Numerical methods were then used to determine the effect of enzyme concentration on: (1) the change in total free metabolite concentration as the pathway changes from low flux to high flux, (2) the time lag (transient time) in the rate of final product formation upon the transition from low flux to high flux. Both the changes in metabolite pool size and the transient time decreased with increased enzyme concentrations. When all enzymatic reactions were assigned Keq of unity, a concentration for each enzyme of 25 microM is sufficient to provide a transient time of 1 sec. When Keq different from unity are introduced, more enzyme is required to provide comparably short transient times. Under the latter condition, a pathway of sufficiently low transient time would require all the enzyme available in mammalian muscle. It is shown that there is little scope for further increases in either enzyme concentration or of catalytic efficiency of independent enzymes. Therefore, an alternative method of increasing efficiency is considered in which enzyme-bound metabolites can serve directly as substrates for subsequent enzymes in a metabolic pathway.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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