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Front Physiol. 2019 Mar 8;10:201. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2019.00201. eCollection 2019.

Control and Regulation of Substrate Selection in Cytoplasmic and Mitochondrial Catabolic Networks. A Systems Biology Analysis.

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1
Laboratory of Cardiovascular Science, National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health, Baltimore, MD, United States.

Abstract

Appropriate substrate selection between fats and glucose is associated with the success of interventions that maintain health such as exercise or caloric restriction, or with the severity of diseases such as diabetes or other metabolic disorders. Although the interaction and mutual inhibition between glucose and fatty-acids (FAs) catabolism has been studied for decades, a quantitative and integrated understanding of the control and regulation of substrate selection through central catabolic pathways is lacking. We addressed this gap here using a computational model representing cardiomyocyte catabolism encompassing glucose (Glc) utilization, pyruvate transport into mitochondria and oxidation in the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle, β-oxidation of palmitate (Palm), oxidative phosphorylation, ion transport, pH regulation, and ROS generation and scavenging in cytoplasmic and mitochondrial compartments. The model is described by 82 differential equations and 119 enzymatic, electron transport and substrate transport reactions accounting for regulatory mechanisms and key players, namely pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH) and its modulation by multiple effectors. We applied metabolic control analysis to the network operating with various Glc to Palm ratios. The flux and metabolites' concentration control were visualized through heat maps providing major insights into main control and regulatory nodes throughout the catabolic network. Metabolic pathways located in different compartments were found to reciprocally control each other. For example, glucose uptake and the ATP demand exert control on most processes in catabolism while TCA cycle activities and membrane-associated energy transduction reactions exerted control on mitochondrial processes namely β-oxidation. PFK and PDH, two highly regulated enzymes, exhibit opposite behavior from a control perspective. While PFK activity was a main rate-controlling step affecting the whole network, PDH played the role of a major regulator showing high sensitivity (elasticity) to substrate availability and key activators/inhibitors, a trait expected from a flexible substrate selector strategically located in the metabolic network. PDH regulated the rate of Glc and Palm consumption, consistent with its high sensitivity toward AcCoA, CoA, and NADH. Overall, these results indicate that the control of catabolism is highly distributed across the metabolic network suggesting that fuel selection between FAs and Glc goes well beyond the mechanisms traditionally postulated to explain the glucose-fatty-acid cycle.

KEYWORDS:

central catabolism; computational modeling; control coefficients; glucose and fatty acids; metabolic control analysis; pyruvate dehydrogenase regulation

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