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This article is part of the supplement: Selected articles from the Eleventh Asia Pacific Bioinformatics Conference (APBC 2013): Bioinformatics

Open Access Proceedings

Adaptive bi-level programming for optimal gene knockouts for targeted overproduction under phenotypic constraints

Shaogang Ren1, Bo Zeng2 and Xiaoning Qian1*

Author affiliations

1 Department of Computer Science and Engineering, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL 33620, USA

2 Department of Industrial and Management Systems Engineering, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL 33620, USA

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Citation and License

BMC Bioinformatics 2013, 14(Suppl 2):S17  doi:10.1186/1471-2105-14-S2-S17

Published: 21 January 2013

Abstract

Background

Optimization procedures to identify gene knockouts for targeted biochemical overproduction have been widely in use in modern metabolic engineering. Flux balance analysis (FBA) framework has provided conceptual simplifications for genome-scale dynamic analysis at steady states. Based on FBA, many current optimization methods for targeted bio-productions have been developed under the maximum cell growth assumption. The optimization problem to derive gene knockout strategies recently has been formulated as a bi-level programming problem in OptKnock for maximum targeted bio-productions with maximum growth rates. However, it has been shown that knockout mutants in fact reach the steady states with the minimization of metabolic adjustment (MOMA) from the corresponding wild-type strains instead of having maximal growth rates after genetic or metabolic intervention. In this work, we propose a new bi-level computational framework--MOMAKnock--which can derive robust knockout strategies under the MOMA flux distribution approximation.

Methods

In this new bi-level optimization framework, we aim to maximize the production of targeted chemicals by identifying candidate knockout genes or reactions under phenotypic constraints approximated by the MOMA assumption. Hence, the targeted chemical production is the primary objective of MOMAKnock while the MOMA assumption is formulated as the inner problem of constraining the knockout metabolic flux to be as close as possible to the steady-state phenotypes of wide-type strains. As this new inner problem becomes a quadratic programming problem, a novel adaptive piecewise linearization algorithm is developed in this paper to obtain the exact optimal solution to this new bi-level integer quadratic programming problem for MOMAKnock.

Results

Our new MOMAKnock model and the adaptive piecewise linearization solution algorithm are tested with a small E. coli core metabolic network and a large-scale iAF1260 E. coli metabolic network. The derived knockout strategies are compared with those from OptKnock. Our preliminary experimental results show that MOMAKnock can provide improved targeted productions with more robust knockout strategies.