Metabolites2015, 5(2), 291-310; doi:10.3390/metabo5020291 (registering DOI) - published 22 May 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: BioCyc.org is a genome and metabolic pathway web portal covering 5500 organisms, including Homo sapiens, Arabidopsis thaliana, Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Escherichia coli. These organism-specific databases have undergone variable degrees of curation. The EcoCyc (Escherichia coli Encyclopedia) database is the most highly curated; its contents have been derived from 27,000 publications. The MetaCyc (Metabolic Encyclopedia) database within BioCyc is a “universal” metabolic database that describes pathways, reactions, enzymes and metabolites from all domains of life. Metabolic pathways provide an organizing framework for analyzing metabolomics data, and the BioCyc website provides computational operations for metabolomics data that include metabolite search and translation of metabolite identifiers across multiple metabolite databases. The site allows researchers to store and manipulate metabolite lists using a facility called SmartTables, which supports metabolite enrichment analysis. That analysis operation identifies metabolite sets that are statistically over-represented for the substrates of specific metabolic pathways. BioCyc also enables visualization of metabolomics data on individual pathway diagrams and on the organism-specific metabolic map diagrams that are available for every BioCyc organism. Most of these operations are available both interactively and as programmatic web services.
Abstract: Lignans are structurally and functionally diverse phytochemicals biosynthesized in diverse plant species and have received wide attentions as leading compounds of novel drugs for tumor treatment and healthy diets to reduce of the risks of lifestyle-related non-communicable diseases. However, the lineage-specific distribution and the low-amount of production in natural plants, some of which are endangered species, hinder the efficient and stable production of beneficial lignans. Accordingly, the development of new procedures for lignan production is of keen interest. Recent marked advances in the molecular and functional characterization of lignan biosynthetic enzymes and endogenous and exogenous factors for lignan biosynthesis have suggested new methods for the metabolic engineering of lignan biosynthesis cascades leading to the efficient, sustainable, and stable lignan production in plants, including plant cell/organ cultures. Optimization of light conditions, utilization of a wide range of elicitor treatments, and construction of transiently gene-transfected or transgenic lignan-biosynthesizing plants are mainly being attempted. This review will present the basic and latest knowledge regarding metabolic engineering of lignans based on their biosynthetic pathways and biological activities, and the perspectives in lignan production via metabolic engineering.
Abstract: In this work, we investigate optimality principles behind synthesis strategies for protein complexes using a dynamic optimization approach. We show that the cellular capacity of protein synthesis has a strong influence on optimal synthesis strategies reaching from a simultaneous to a sequential synthesis of the subunits of a protein complex. Sequential synthesis is preferred if protein synthesis is strongly limited, whereas a simultaneous synthesis is optimal in situations with a high protein synthesis capacity. We confirm the predictions of our optimization approach through the analysis of the operonic organization of protein complexes in several hundred prokaryotes. Thereby, we are able to show that cellular protein synthesis capacity is a driving force in the dissolution of operons comprising the subunits of a protein complex. Thus, we also provide a tested hypothesis explaining why the subunits of many prokaryotic protein complexes are distributed across several operons despite the presumably less precise co-regulation.
Abstract: The underlying cellular mechanisms that characterize aging are complex and multifaceted. However, it is emerging that aging could be regulated by two distinct metabolic hubs. These hubs are the pathway defined by the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) and that defined by the NAD+-dependent deacetylase enzyme, SIRT1. Recent experimental evidence suggests that there is crosstalk between these two important pathways; however, the mechanisms underpinning their interaction(s) remains poorly understood. In this review, we propose using computational modelling in tandem with experimentation to delineate the mechanism(s). We briefly discuss the main modelling frameworks that could be used to disentangle this relationship and present a reduced reaction pathway that could be modelled. We conclude by outlining the limitations of computational modelling and by discussing opportunities for future progress in this area.
Abstract: Corynebacterium glutamicum shows great potential for the production of the glutamate-derived diamine putrescine, a monomeric compound of polyamides. A genome-scale stoichiometric model of a C. glutamicum strain with reduced ornithine transcarbamoylase activity, derepressed arginine biosynthesis, and an anabolic plasmid-addiction system for heterologous expression of E. coli ornithine decarboxylase gene speC was investigated by flux balance analysis with respect to its putrescine production potential. Based on these simulations, enhancing glycolysis and anaplerosis by plasmid-borne overexpression of the genes for glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase and pyruvate carboxylase as well as reducing 2-oxoglutarate dehydrogenase activity were chosen as targets for metabolic engineering. Changing the translational start codon of the chromosomal gene for 2-oxoglutarate dehydrogenase subunit E1o to the less preferred TTG and changing threonine 15 of OdhI to alanine reduced 2-oxoglutarate dehydrogenase activity about five fold and improved putrescine titers by 28%. Additional engineering steps improved further putrescine production with the largest contributions from preventing the formation of the by-product N-acetylputrescine by deletion of spermi(di)ne N-acetyltransferase gene snaA and from overexpression of the gene for a feedback-resistant N-acetylglutamate kinase variant. The resulting C. glutamicum strain NA6 obtained by systems metabolic engineering accumulated two fold more putrescine than the base strain, i.e., 58.1 ± 0.2 mM, and showed a specific productivity of 0.045 g·g−1·h−1 and a yield on glucose of 0.26 g·g−1.
Abstract: Lung cancer is a leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide. Metabolic alterations in tumor cells coupled with systemic indicators of the host response to tumor development have the potential to yield blood profiles with clinical utility for diagnosis and monitoring of treatment. We report results from two separate studies using gas chromatography time-of-flight mass spectrometry (GC-TOF MS) to profile metabolites in human blood samples that significantly differ from non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) adenocarcinoma and other lung cancer cases. Metabolomic analysis of blood samples from the two studies yielded a total of 437 metabolites, of which 148 were identified as known compounds and 289 identified as unknown compounds. Differential analysis identified 15 known metabolites in one study and 18 in a second study that were statistically different (p-values <0.05). Levels of maltose, palmitic acid, glycerol, ethanolamine, glutamic acid, and lactic acid were increased in cancer samples while amino acids tryptophan, lysine and histidine decreased. Many of the metabolites were found to be significantly different in both studies, suggesting that metabolomics appears to be robust enough to find systemic changes from lung cancer, thus showing the potential of this type of analysis for lung cancer detection.