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Exploring metabolism flexibility in complex organisms through quantitative study of precursor sets for system outputs

Abstract : Background
When studying metabolism at the organ level, a major challenge is to understand the matter exchanges between the input and output components of the system. For example, in nutrition, biochemical models have been developed to study the metabolism of the mammary gland in relation to the synthesis of milk components. These models were designed to account for the quantitative constraints observed on inputs and outputs of the system. In these models, a compatible flux distribution is first selected. Alternatively, an infinite family of compatible set of flux rates may have to be studied when the constraints raised by observations are insufficient to identify a single flux distribution. The precursors of output nutrients are traced back with analyses similar to the computation of yield rates. However, the computation of the quantitative contributions of precursors may lack precision, mainly because some precursors are involved in the composition of several nutrients and because some metabolites are cycled in loops.
We formally modeled the quantitative allocation of input nutrients among the branches of the metabolic network (AIO). It corresponds to yield information which, if standardized across all the outputs of the system, allows a precise quantitative understanding of their precursors. By solving nonlinear optimization problems, we introduced a method to study the variability of AIO coefficients when parsing the space of flux distributions that are compatible with both model stoichiometry and experimental data. Applied to a model of the metabolism of the mammary gland, our method made it possible to distinguish the effects of different nutritional treatments, although it cannot be proved that the mammary gland optimizes a specific linear combination of flux variables, including those based on energy. Altogether, our study indicated that the mammary gland possesses considerable metabolic flexibility.
Our method enables to study the variability of a metabolic network with respect to efficiency (i.e. yield rates). It allows a quantitative comparison of the respective contributions of precursors to the production of a set of nutrients by a metabolic network, regardless of the choice of the flux distribution within the different branches of the network.
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Submitted on : Friday, February 14, 2014 - 9:12:46 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, May 19, 2022 - 4:48:04 PM
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Oumarou Abdou-Arbi, Sophie Lemosquet, Jaap J. van Milgen, Anne Siegel, Jérémie Bourdon. Exploring metabolism flexibility in complex organisms through quantitative study of precursor sets for system outputs. BMC Systems Biology, 2014, 8 (1), pp.8. ⟨10.1186/1752-0509-8-8⟩. ⟨hal-00947219⟩



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