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This article is part of the supplement: Eleventh International Conference on Bioinformatics (InCoB2012): Bioinformatics

Open Access Proceedings

CMPF: Class-switching minimized pathfinding in metabolic networks

Kevin Lim* and Limsoon Wong

Author Affiliations

School of Computing, National University of Singapore, Singapore

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BMC Bioinformatics 2012, 13(Suppl 17):S17  doi:10.1186/1471-2105-13-S17-S17

Published: 13 December 2012



The metabolic network is an aggregation of enzyme catalyzed reactions that converts one compound to another. Paths in a metabolic network are a sequence of enzymes that describe how a chemical compound of interest can be produced in a biological system. As the number of such paths is quite large, many methods have been developed to score paths so that the k-shortest paths represent the set of paths that are biologically meaningful or efficient. However, these approaches do not consider whether the sequence of enzymes can be manufactured in the same pathway/species/localization. As a result, a predicted sequence might consist of groups of enzymes that operate in distinct pathway/species/localization and may not truly reflect the events occurring within cell.


We propose a path weighting method CMPF (Class-switching Minimized Pathfinder) to search for routes in a metabolic network which minimizes pathway switching. In biological terms, a pathway is a series of chemical reactions which define a specific function (e.g. glycolysis). We conjecture that routes that cross many pathways are inefficient since different pathways define different metabolic functions. In addition, native routes are also well characterized within pathways, suggesting that reasonable paths should not involve too many pathway switches. Our method can be generalized when reactions participate in a class set (e.g., pathways, species or cellular localization) so that the paths predicted have minimal class crossings.


We show that our method generates k-paths that involve the least number of class switching. In addition, we also show that native paths are recoverable and alternative paths deviates less from native paths compared to other methods. This suggests that paths ranked by our method could be a way to predict paths that are likely to occur in biological systems.