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1.  Gap Detection for Genome-Scale Constraint-Based Models 
Advances in Bioinformatics  2012;2012:323472.
Constraint-based metabolic models are currently the most comprehensive system-wide models of cellular metabolism. Several challenges arise when building an in silico constraint-based model of an organism that need to be addressed before flux balance analysis (FBA) can be applied for simulations. An algorithm called FBA-Gap is presented here that aids the construction of a working model based on plausible modifications to a given list of reactions that are known to occur in the organism. When applied to a working model, the algorithm gives a hypothesis concerning a minimal medium for sustaining the cell in culture. The utility of the algorithm is demonstrated in creating a new model organism and is applied to four existing working models for generating hypotheses about culture media. In modifying a partial metabolic reconstruction so that biomass may be produced using FBA, the proposed method is more efficient than a previously proposed method in that fewer new reactions are added to complete the model. The proposed method is also more accurate than other approaches in that only biologically plausible reactions and exchange reactions are used.
PMCID: PMC3444828  PMID: 22997515
2.  Genome-scale metabolic analysis of Clostridium thermocellum for bioethanol production 
BMC Systems Biology  2010;4:31.
Microorganisms possess diverse metabolic capabilities that can potentially be leveraged for efficient production of biofuels. Clostridium thermocellum (ATCC 27405) is a thermophilic anaerobe that is both cellulolytic and ethanologenic, meaning that it can directly use the plant sugar, cellulose, and biochemically convert it to ethanol. A major challenge in using microorganisms for chemical production is the need to modify the organism to increase production efficiency. The process of properly engineering an organism is typically arduous.
Here we present a genome-scale model of C. thermocellum metabolism, iSR432, for the purpose of establishing a computational tool to study the metabolic network of C. thermocellum and facilitate efforts to engineer C. thermocellum for biofuel production. The model consists of 577 reactions involving 525 intracellular metabolites, 432 genes, and a proteomic-based representation of a cellulosome. The process of constructing this metabolic model led to suggested annotation refinements for 27 genes and identification of areas of metabolism requiring further study. The accuracy of the iSR432 model was tested using experimental growth and by-product secretion data for growth on cellobiose and fructose. Analysis using this model captures the relationship between the reduction-oxidation state of the cell and ethanol secretion and allowed for prediction of gene deletions and environmental conditions that would increase ethanol production.
By incorporating genomic sequence data, network topology, and experimental measurements of enzyme activities and metabolite fluxes, we have generated a model that is reasonably accurate at predicting the cellular phenotype of C. thermocellum and establish a strong foundation for rational strain design. In addition, we are able to draw some important conclusions regarding the underlying metabolic mechanisms for observed behaviors of C. thermocellum and highlight remaining gaps in the existing genome annotations.
PMCID: PMC2852388  PMID: 20307315
3.  Proteomic and network analysis characterize stage-specific metabolism in Trypanosoma cruzi 
BMC Systems Biology  2009;3:52.
Trypanosoma cruzi is a Kinetoplastid parasite of humans and is the cause of Chagas disease, a potentially lethal condition affecting the cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, and nervous systems of the human host. Constraint-based modeling has emerged in the last decade as a useful approach to integrating genomic and other high-throughput data sets with more traditional, experimental data acquired through decades of research and published in the literature.
We present a validated, constraint-based model of the core metabolism of Trypanosoma cruzi strain CL Brener. The model includes four compartments (extracellular space, cytosol, mitochondrion, glycosome), 51 transport reactions, and 93 metabolic reactions covering carbohydrate, amino acid, and energy metabolism. In addition, we make use of several replicate high-throughput proteomic data sets to specifically examine metabolism of the morphological form of T. cruzi in the insect gut (epimastigote stage).
This work demonstrates the utility of constraint-based models for integrating various sources of data (e.g., genomics, primary biochemical literature, proteomics) to generate testable hypotheses. This model represents an approach for the systematic study of T. cruzi metabolism under a wide range of conditions and perturbations, and should eventually aid in the identification of urgently needed novel chemotherapeutic targets.
PMCID: PMC2701929  PMID: 19445715

Results 1-3 (3)