Progress & Opportunities for Metabolic Reconstruction

Nov. 17, 2015

Author Summary

Scientists have been mapping the chemical reactions cells use to grow and manage waste since before enzymes were first identified more than 150 years ago. The model yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae has one of the most extensively studied metabolic networks, including at least 25 metabolic network models published since 2003. If iterative model improvement refines the metabolic network map, we would expect eventual convergence to a full, accurate metabolic network reconstruction. In this study, we looked for evidence of such convergence through comparative analysis of 12 genome-scale yeast models. We conducted simulations and evaluated model features such as predictive accuracy, genomic coverage and the included metabolites and reactions. We found that no single metric for evaluating models can adequately summarize important aspects of model quality. In some cases, we observed tradeoffs between model predictive accuracy and network coverage. We found evidence of incremental changes to the network reconstruction, but not marked shifts in model predictive ability or other metrics clearly arising from changes to the network alone. This work has broader implications to computational reconstruction of metabolic networks for any organism, and suggests that there is opportunity for refocusing the model building process to better support mapping cellular metabolic networks.

Title: Comparative Analysis of Yeast Metabolic Network Models Highlights Progress, Opportunities for Metabolic Reconstruction
Journal: PLOS Computational Biology
Authors: Benjamin D. Heavner, Nathan D. Price
Link: PLOS