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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Dynamics and Control of the Central Carbon Metabolism in Hepatoma Cells

Klaus Maier1, Ute Hofmann2, Matthias Reuss1 and Klaus Mauch3*

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Biochemical Engineering, University of Stuttgart, Allmandring 31, 70569 Stuttgart, Germany

2 Dr Margarete Fischer-Bosch Institute of Clinical Pharmacology, Stuttgart and University of Tuebingen, Auerbachstrasse 112, 70376 Stuttgart, Germany

3 Insilico Biotechnology AG, Nobelstrasse 15, 70569 Stuttgart, Germany

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BMC Systems Biology 2010, 4:54  doi:10.1186/1752-0509-4-54

Published: 28 April 2010



The liver plays a major role in metabolism and performs a number of vital functions in the body. Therefore, the determination of hepatic metabolite dynamics and the analysis of the control of the respective biochemical pathways are of great pharmacological and medical importance. Extra- and intracellular time-series data from stimulus-response experiments are gaining in importance in the identification of in vivo metabolite dynamics, while dynamic network models are excellent tools for analyzing complex metabolic control patterns. This is the first study that has been undertaken on the data-driven identification of a dynamic liver central carbon metabolism model and its application in the analysis of the distribution of metabolic control in hepatoma cells.


Dynamic metabolite data were collected from HepG2 cells after they had been deprived of extracellular glucose. The concentration of 25 extra- and intracellular intermediates was quantified using HPLC, LC-MS-MS, and GC-MS. The in silico metabolite dynamics were in accordance with the experimental data. The central carbon metabolism of hepatomas was further analyzed with a particular focus on the control of metabolite concentrations and metabolic fluxes. It was observed that the enzyme glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase exerted substantial negative control over the glycolytic flux, whereas oxidative phosphorylation had a significant positive control. The control over the rate of NADPH consumption was found to be shared between the NADPH-demand itself (0.65) and the NADPH supply (0.38).


Based on time-series data, a dynamic central carbon metabolism model was developed for the investigation of new and complex metabolic control patterns in hepatoma cells. The control patterns found support the hypotheses that the glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase and the Warburg effect are promising targets for tumor treatment. The systems-oriented identification of metabolite dynamics is a first step towards the genome-based assessment of potential risks posed by nutrients and drugs.