Metabolic networks are composed of metabolic pathways that consist of biochemical reaction steps. The functionality of pathways within a network is determined by metabolic fluxes, defined as the amount of converted metabolite per unit of time, per cell (or per unit mass of tissue), through each biochemical step within a metabolic pathway. The flux through a pathway depends on the kinetic properties of enzymes, as well as on their cellular levels and activities, which are regulated by gene expression, posttranscriptional, translational, and/or posttranslational modifications, and enzyme stability. Metabolic flux analysis (MFA) is a tool that has traditionally been used in microbial systems to assess the effects of environmental and targeted genetic changes on in vivo rates of metabolites synthesis. MFA can be used to gauge the degree of success of specific genetic interventions aimed at diverting metabolic flux to desirable products. The techniques of MFA have therefore become important tools in metabolic engineering and systems biology. To fully understand how a cell functions, analysis needs to include not only a description of its molecular parts, which can be obtained from molecular biology methods, but also a description of flux distributions within the complex and dynamic metabolic networks . As will be discussed in the next section, MFA via computer modeling of metabolism can provide information about the proximity of certain compounds to one another, the contribution of a pathway or part of a pathway to end products, the existence of storage pools, and regulation and reversibility of reactions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)