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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Genome-scale modeling using flux ratio constraints to enable metabolic engineering of clostridial metabolism in silico

Michael J McAnulty, Jiun Y Yen, Benjamin G Freedman and Ryan S Senger*

Author affiliations

Biological Systems Engineering Department, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA

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Citation and License

BMC Systems Biology 2012, 6:42  doi:10.1186/1752-0509-6-42

Published: 14 May 2012

Abstract

Background

Genome-scale metabolic networks and flux models are an effective platform for linking an organism genotype to its phenotype. However, few modeling approaches offer predictive capabilities to evaluate potential metabolic engineering strategies in silico.

Results

A new method called “

    f
lux
    b
alance
    a
nalysis with flux
    ratio
s (FBrAtio)” was developed in this research and applied to a new genome-scale model of Clostridium acetobutylicum ATCC 824 (iCAC490) that contains 707 metabolites and 794 reactions. FBrAtio was used to model wild-type metabolism and metabolically engineered strains of C. acetobutylicum where only flux ratio constraints and thermodynamic reversibility of reactions were required. The FBrAtio approach allowed solutions to be found through standard linear programming. Five flux ratio constraints were required to achieve a qualitative picture of wild-type metabolism for C. acetobutylicum for the production of: (i) acetate, (ii) lactate, (iii) butyrate, (iv) acetone, (v) butanol, (vi) ethanol, (vii) CO2 and (viii) H2. Results of this simulation study coincide with published experimental results and show the knockdown of the acetoacetyl-CoA transferase increases butanol to acetone selectivity, while the simultaneous over-expression of the aldehyde/alcohol dehydrogenase greatly increases ethanol production.

Conclusions

FBrAtio is a promising new method for constraining genome-scale models using internal flux ratios. The method was effective for modeling wild-type and engineered strains of C. acetobutylicum.

Keywords:
Genome-scale model; clostridia; flux ratio; flux balance analysis; metabolic engineering; systems biology