Metabolites2014, 4(4), 1034-1087; doi:10.3390/metabo4041034 - published 24 November 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Cell metabolism is the biochemical machinery that provides energy and building blocks to sustain life. Understanding its fine regulation is of pivotal relevance in several fields, from metabolic engineering applications to the treatment of metabolic disorders and cancer. Sophisticated computational approaches are needed to unravel the complexity of metabolism. To this aim, a plethora of methods have been developed, yet it is generally hard to identify which computational strategy is most suited for the investigation of a specific aspect of metabolism. This review provides an up-to-date description of the computational methods available for the analysis of metabolic pathways, discussing their main advantages and drawbacks. In particular, attention is devoted to the identification of the appropriate scale and level of accuracy in the reconstruction of metabolic networks, and to the inference of model structure and parameters, especially when dealing with a shortage of experimental measurements. The choice of the proper computational methods to derive in silico data is then addressed, including topological analyses, constraint-based modeling and simulation of the system dynamics. A description of some computational approaches to gain new biological knowledge or to formulate hypotheses is finally provided.
Metabolites2014, 4(4), 1018-1033; doi:10.3390/metabo4041018 - published 13 November 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: In the present study, we applied nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), as well as near-infrared (NIR) spectroscopy, to Jatropha curcas to fulfill two objectives: (1) to qualitatively examine the seeds stored at different conditions, and (2) to monitor the metabolism of J. curcas during its initial growth stage under stable-isotope-labeling condition (until 15 days after seeding). NIR spectra could non-invasively distinguish differences in storage conditions. NMR metabolic analysis of water-soluble metabolites identified sucrose and raffinose family oligosaccharides as positive markers and gluconic acid as a negative marker of seed germination. Isotopic labeling patteren of metabolites in germinated seedlings cultured in agar-plate containg 13C-glucose and 15N-nitrate was analyzed by zero-quantum-filtered-total correlation spectroscopy (ZQF-TOCSY) and 13C-detected 1H-13C heteronuclear correlation spectroscopy (HETCOR). 13C-detected HETOCR with 13C-optimized cryogenic probe provided high-resolution 13C-NMR spectra of each metabolite in molecular crowd. The 13C-13C/12C bondmer estimated from 1H-13C HETCOR spectra indicated that glutamine and arginine were the major organic compounds for nitrogen and carbon transfer from roots to leaves.
Metabolites2014, 4(4), 1007-1017; doi:10.3390/metabo4041007 - published 4 November 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Phenylketonuria (PKU) was the first inherited metabolic disease in which dietary treatment was found to prevent the disease’s clinical features. Treatment of phenylketonuria remains difficult due to progressive decrease in adherence to diet and the presence of neurocognitive defects despite therapy. This review aims to summarize the current literature on new treatment strategies. Additions to treatment include new, more palatable foods based on glycomacropeptide that contains very limited amount of aromatic amino acids, the administration of large neutral amino acids to prevent phenylalanine entry into the brain or tetrahydropterina cofactor capable of increasing residual activity of phenylalanine hydroxylase. Moreover, human trials have recently been performed with subcutaneous administration of phenylalanine ammonia-lyase, and further efforts are underway to develop an oral therapy containing phenylanine ammonia-lyase. Gene therapy also seems to be a promising approach in the near future.
Metabolites2014, 4(4), 977-1006; doi:10.3390/metabo4040977 - published 3 November 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Heme, like chlorophyll, is a primordial molecule and is one of the fundamental pigments of life. Disorders of normal heme synthesis may cause human diseases, including certain anemias (X-linked sideroblastic anemias) and porphyrias. Porphyrias are classified as hepatic and erythropoietic porphyrias based on the organ system in which heme precursors (5-aminolevulinic acid (ALA), porphobilinogen and porphyrins) are chiefly overproduced. The hepatic porphyrias are further subdivided into acute porphyrias and chronic hepatic porphyrias. The acute porphyrias include acute intermittent, hereditary copro-, variegate and ALA dehydratase deficiency porphyria. Chronic hepatic porphyrias include porphyria cutanea tarda and hepatoerythropoietic porphyria. The erythropoietic porphyrias include congenital erythropoietic porphyria (Gűnther’s disease) and erythropoietic protoporphyria. In this review, we summarize the key features of normal heme synthesis and its differing regulation in liver versus bone marrow. In both organs, principal regulation is exerted at the level of the first and rate-controlling enzyme, but by different molecules (heme in the liver and iron in the bone marrow). We also describe salient clinical, laboratory and genetic features of the eight types of porphyria.
Abstract: Future improvement of woody biomass crops such as willow and poplar relies on our ability to select for metabolic traits that sequester more atmospheric carbon into biomass, or into useful products to replace petrochemical streams. We describe the development of metabotyping screens for willow, using combined 1D 1H-NMR-MS. A protocol was developed to overcome 1D 1H-NMR spectral alignment problems caused by variable pH and peak broadening arising from high organic acid levels and metal cations. The outcome was a robust method to allow direct statistical comparison of profiles arising from source (leaf) and sink (stem) tissues allowing data to be normalised to a constant weight of the soluble metabolome. We also describe the analysis of two willow biomass varieties, demonstrating how fingerprints from1D 1H-NMR-MS vary from the top to the bottom of the plant. Automated extraction of quantitative data of 56 primary and secondary metabolites from 1D 1H-NMR spectra was realised by the construction and application of a Salix metabolite spectral library using the Chenomx software suite. The optimised metabotyping screen in conjunction with automated quantitation will enable high-throughput screening of genetic collections. It also provides genotype and tissue specific data for future modelling of carbon flow in metabolic networks.
Abstract: Volatile metabolites from mold contamination have been proposed for the early identification of toxigenic fungi to prevent toxicological risks, but there are no such data available for Fusarium poae.F. poae is one of the species complexes involved in Fusarium head blight, a cereal disease that results in significant yield losses and quality reductions. The identification of volatile organic compounds associated with F. poae metabolism could provide good markers to indicate early fungal contamination. To this aim, we evaluated the volatile profile of healthy and F. poae-infected durum wheat kernels by SPME-GC/MS analysis. The production of volatile metabolites was monitored for seven days, and the time course analysis of key volatiles was determined. A total of 29 volatile markers were selected among the detected compounds, and multivariate analysis was applied to establish the relationship between potential volatile markers and fungal contamination. A range of volatile compounds, including alcohols, ketones, esters, furans and aromatics, were identified, both in contaminated and in healthy kernels. However, the overall volatile profile of infected samples and controls differed, indicating that the whole volatile profile, rather than individual volatile compounds, could be used to identify F. poae contamination of durum wheat grains.