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BMC Res Notes. 2010 May 5;3:125. doi: 10.1186/1756-0500-3-125.

Thermodynamic analysis of regulation in metabolic networks using constraint-based modeling.

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Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry, University of Toronto, Ontario-M5S3E5, Canada.



Geobacter sulfurreducens is a member of the Geobacter species, which are capable of oxidation of organic waste coupled to the reduction of heavy metals and electrode with applications in bioremediation and bioenergy generation. While the metabolism of this organism has been studied through the development of a stoichiometry based genome-scale metabolic model, the associated regulatory network has not yet been well studied. In this manuscript, we report on the implementation of a thermodynamics based metabolic flux model for Geobacter sulfurreducens. We use this updated model to identify reactions that are subject to regulatory control in the metabolic network of G. sulfurreducens using thermodynamic variability analysis.


As a first step, we have validated the regulatory sites and bottleneck reactions predicted by the thermodynamic flux analysis in E. coli by evaluating the expression ranges of the corresponding genes. We then identified ten reactions in the metabolic network of G. sulfurreducens that are predicted to be candidates for regulation. We then compared the free energy ranges for these reactions with the corresponding gene expression fold changes under conditions of different environmental and genetic perturbations and show that the model predictions of regulation are consistent with data. In addition, we also identify reactions that operate close to equilibrium and show that the experimentally determined exchange coefficient (a measure of reversibility) is significant for these reactions.


Application of the thermodynamic constraints resulted in identification of potential bottleneck reactions not only from the central metabolism but also from the nucleotide and amino acid subsystems, thereby showing the highly coupled nature of the thermodynamic constraints. In addition, thermodynamic variability analysis serves as a valuable tool in estimating the ranges of DeltarG' of every reaction in the model leading to the prediction of regulatory sites in the metabolic network, thereby characterizing the regulatory network in both a model organism such as E. coli as well as a non model organism such as G. sulfurreducens.

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