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Modeling and analysis of flux distributions in the two branches of the phosphotransferase system in Pseudomonas putida

Andreas Kremling1*, Katharina Pflüger-Grau1, Max Chavarría2, Jacek Puchalka35, Vitor Martins dos Santos4 and Víctor de Lorenzo2

Author Affiliations

1 Fachgebiet Systembiotechnologie, Technische Universität München, Garching b. München, Germany

2 Systems Biology Program, Centro Nacional de Biotecnología-CSIC, Campus Cantoblanco, Madrid, Spain

3 , Helmholtz Center for Infection Research, Braunschweig, Germany

4 , Wageningen University & Research centre, Agrotechnology & Food Sciences, Wageningen, Netherlands

5 , Present address: University Children’s Hospital

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BMC Systems Biology 2012, 6:149  doi:10.1186/1752-0509-6-149

Published: 6 December 2012



Signal transduction plays a fundamental role in the understanding of cellular physiology. The bacterial phosphotransferase system (PTS) together with the PEP/pyruvate node in central metabolism represents a signaling unit that acts as a sensory element and measures the activity of the central metabolism. Pseudomonas putida possesses two PTS branches, the C-branch (PTSFru) and a second branch (PTSNtr), which communicate with each other by phosphate exchange. Recent experimental results showed a cross talk between the two branches. However, the functional role of the crosstalk remains open.


A mathematical model was set up to describe the available data of the state of phosphorylation of PtsN, one of the PTS proteins, for different environmental conditions and different strain variants. Additionally, data from flux balance analysis was used to determine some of the kinetic parameters of the involved reactions. Based on the calculated and estimated parameters, the flux distribution during growth of the wild type strain on fructose could be determined.


Our calculations show that during growth of the wild type strain on the PTS substrate fructose, the major part of the phosphoryl groups is provided by the second branch of the PTS. This theoretical finding indicates a new role of the second branch of the PTS and will serve as a basis for further experimental studies.

Phosphotransferase System (PTS); Flux Balance Analysis (FBA); Kinetic modelling; Metabolic Control Analysis (MCA)