Inferring branching pathways in genome-scale metabolic networks

E. Pitkänen (Corresponding Author), Paula Jouhten, J. Rousu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: A central problem in computational metabolic modelling is how to find biochemically plausible pathways between metabolites in a metabolic network. Two general, complementary frameworks have been utilized to find metabolic pathways: constraint-based modelling and graph-theoretical path finding approaches. In constraint-based modelling, one aims to find pathways where metabolites are balanced in a pseudo steady-state. Constraint-based methods, such as elementary flux mode analysis, have typically a high computational cost stemming from a large number of steady-state pathways in a typical metabolic network. On the other hand, graph-theoretical approaches avoid the computational complexity of constraint-based methods by solving a simpler problem of finding shortest paths. However, while scaling well with network size, graph-theoretic methods generally tend to return more false positive pathways than constraint-based methods.

Results: In this paper, we introduce a computational method, ReTrace, for finding biochemically relevant, branching metabolic pathways in an atom-level representation of metabolic networks. The method finds compact pathways which transfer a high fraction of atoms from source to target metabolites by considering combinations of linear shortest paths. In contrast to current steady-state pathway analysis methods, our method scales up well and is able to operate on genome-scale models. Further, we show that the pathways produced are biochemically meaningful by an example involving the biosynthesis of inosine 5'-monophosphate (IMP). In particular, the method is able to avoid typical problems associated with graph-theoretic approaches such as the need to define side metabolites or pathways not carrying any net carbon flux appearing in results. Finally, we discuss an application involving reconstruction of amino acid pathways of a recently sequenced organism demonstrating how measurement data can be easily incorporated into ReTrace analysis. ReTrace is licensed under GPL and is freely available for academic use at http://www.cs.helsinki.fi/group/sysfys/software/retrace/.

Conclusion: ReTrace is a useful method in metabolic path finding tasks, combining some of the best aspects in constraint-based and graph-theoretic methods. It finds use in a multitude of tasks ranging from metabolic engineering to metabolic reconstruction of recently sequenced organisms.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBMC Systems Biology
Volume3
Issue number103
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2009
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fingerprint

Metabolic Network
Metabolic Networks and Pathways
Branching
Pathway
Metabolites
Genome
Genes
Fluxes
Metabolic engineering
Atoms
Graph in graph theory
Biosynthesis
Computational methods
Amino acids
Shortest path
Computational complexity
Modeling
Metabolic Engineering
Carbon
Carbon Cycle

Keywords

  • metabolic modelling
  • metabolic networks
  • metabolic pathways
  • computational methods
  • metabolites

Cite this

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title = "Inferring branching pathways in genome-scale metabolic networks",
abstract = "Background: A central problem in computational metabolic modelling is how to find biochemically plausible pathways between metabolites in a metabolic network. Two general, complementary frameworks have been utilized to find metabolic pathways: constraint-based modelling and graph-theoretical path finding approaches. In constraint-based modelling, one aims to find pathways where metabolites are balanced in a pseudo steady-state. Constraint-based methods, such as elementary flux mode analysis, have typically a high computational cost stemming from a large number of steady-state pathways in a typical metabolic network. On the other hand, graph-theoretical approaches avoid the computational complexity of constraint-based methods by solving a simpler problem of finding shortest paths. However, while scaling well with network size, graph-theoretic methods generally tend to return more false positive pathways than constraint-based methods.Results: In this paper, we introduce a computational method, ReTrace, for finding biochemically relevant, branching metabolic pathways in an atom-level representation of metabolic networks. The method finds compact pathways which transfer a high fraction of atoms from source to target metabolites by considering combinations of linear shortest paths. In contrast to current steady-state pathway analysis methods, our method scales up well and is able to operate on genome-scale models. Further, we show that the pathways produced are biochemically meaningful by an example involving the biosynthesis of inosine 5'-monophosphate (IMP). In particular, the method is able to avoid typical problems associated with graph-theoretic approaches such as the need to define side metabolites or pathways not carrying any net carbon flux appearing in results. Finally, we discuss an application involving reconstruction of amino acid pathways of a recently sequenced organism demonstrating how measurement data can be easily incorporated into ReTrace analysis. ReTrace is licensed under GPL and is freely available for academic use at http://www.cs.helsinki.fi/group/sysfys/software/retrace/.Conclusion: ReTrace is a useful method in metabolic path finding tasks, combining some of the best aspects in constraint-based and graph-theoretic methods. It finds use in a multitude of tasks ranging from metabolic engineering to metabolic reconstruction of recently sequenced organisms.",
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Inferring branching pathways in genome-scale metabolic networks. / Pitkänen, E. (Corresponding Author); Jouhten, Paula; Rousu, J.

In: BMC Systems Biology, Vol. 3, No. 103, 2009.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Inferring branching pathways in genome-scale metabolic networks

AU - Pitkänen, E.

AU - Jouhten, Paula

AU - Rousu, J.

PY - 2009

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N2 - Background: A central problem in computational metabolic modelling is how to find biochemically plausible pathways between metabolites in a metabolic network. Two general, complementary frameworks have been utilized to find metabolic pathways: constraint-based modelling and graph-theoretical path finding approaches. In constraint-based modelling, one aims to find pathways where metabolites are balanced in a pseudo steady-state. Constraint-based methods, such as elementary flux mode analysis, have typically a high computational cost stemming from a large number of steady-state pathways in a typical metabolic network. On the other hand, graph-theoretical approaches avoid the computational complexity of constraint-based methods by solving a simpler problem of finding shortest paths. However, while scaling well with network size, graph-theoretic methods generally tend to return more false positive pathways than constraint-based methods.Results: In this paper, we introduce a computational method, ReTrace, for finding biochemically relevant, branching metabolic pathways in an atom-level representation of metabolic networks. The method finds compact pathways which transfer a high fraction of atoms from source to target metabolites by considering combinations of linear shortest paths. In contrast to current steady-state pathway analysis methods, our method scales up well and is able to operate on genome-scale models. Further, we show that the pathways produced are biochemically meaningful by an example involving the biosynthesis of inosine 5'-monophosphate (IMP). In particular, the method is able to avoid typical problems associated with graph-theoretic approaches such as the need to define side metabolites or pathways not carrying any net carbon flux appearing in results. Finally, we discuss an application involving reconstruction of amino acid pathways of a recently sequenced organism demonstrating how measurement data can be easily incorporated into ReTrace analysis. ReTrace is licensed under GPL and is freely available for academic use at http://www.cs.helsinki.fi/group/sysfys/software/retrace/.Conclusion: ReTrace is a useful method in metabolic path finding tasks, combining some of the best aspects in constraint-based and graph-theoretic methods. It finds use in a multitude of tasks ranging from metabolic engineering to metabolic reconstruction of recently sequenced organisms.

AB - Background: A central problem in computational metabolic modelling is how to find biochemically plausible pathways between metabolites in a metabolic network. Two general, complementary frameworks have been utilized to find metabolic pathways: constraint-based modelling and graph-theoretical path finding approaches. In constraint-based modelling, one aims to find pathways where metabolites are balanced in a pseudo steady-state. Constraint-based methods, such as elementary flux mode analysis, have typically a high computational cost stemming from a large number of steady-state pathways in a typical metabolic network. On the other hand, graph-theoretical approaches avoid the computational complexity of constraint-based methods by solving a simpler problem of finding shortest paths. However, while scaling well with network size, graph-theoretic methods generally tend to return more false positive pathways than constraint-based methods.Results: In this paper, we introduce a computational method, ReTrace, for finding biochemically relevant, branching metabolic pathways in an atom-level representation of metabolic networks. The method finds compact pathways which transfer a high fraction of atoms from source to target metabolites by considering combinations of linear shortest paths. In contrast to current steady-state pathway analysis methods, our method scales up well and is able to operate on genome-scale models. Further, we show that the pathways produced are biochemically meaningful by an example involving the biosynthesis of inosine 5'-monophosphate (IMP). In particular, the method is able to avoid typical problems associated with graph-theoretic approaches such as the need to define side metabolites or pathways not carrying any net carbon flux appearing in results. Finally, we discuss an application involving reconstruction of amino acid pathways of a recently sequenced organism demonstrating how measurement data can be easily incorporated into ReTrace analysis. ReTrace is licensed under GPL and is freely available for academic use at http://www.cs.helsinki.fi/group/sysfys/software/retrace/.Conclusion: ReTrace is a useful method in metabolic path finding tasks, combining some of the best aspects in constraint-based and graph-theoretic methods. It finds use in a multitude of tasks ranging from metabolic engineering to metabolic reconstruction of recently sequenced organisms.

KW - metabolic modelling

KW - metabolic networks

KW - metabolic pathways

KW - computational methods

KW - metabolites

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M3 - Article

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JO - BMC Systems Biology

JF - BMC Systems Biology

SN - 1752-0509

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