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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Two-Scale 13C Metabolic Flux Analysis for Metabolic Engineering.


Accelerating the Design-Build-Test-Learn (DBTL) cycle in synthetic biology is critical to achieving rapid and facile bioengineering of organisms for the production of, e.g., biofuels and other chemicals. The Learn phase involves using data obtained from the Test phase to inform the next Design phase. As part of the Learn phase, mathematical models of metabolic fluxes give a mechanistic level of comprehension to cellular metabolism, isolating the principle drivers of metabolic behavior from the peripheral ones, and directing future experimental designs and engineering methodologies. Furthermore, the measurement of intracellular metabolic fluxes is specifically noteworthy as providing a rapid and easy-to-understand picture of how carbon and energy flow throughout the cell. Here, we present a detailed guide to performing metabolic flux analysis in the Learn phase of the DBTL cycle, where we show how one can take the isotope labeling data from a 13C labeling experiment and immediately turn it into a determination of cellular fluxes that points in the direction of genetic engineering strategies that will advance the metabolic engineering process.For our modeling purposes we use the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) Quantitative Metabolic Modeling (jQMM) library, which provides an open-source, python-based framework for modeling internal metabolic fluxes and making actionable predictions on how to modify cellular metabolism for specific bioengineering goals. It presents a complete toolbox for performing different types of flux analysis such as Flux Balance Analysis, 13C Metabolic Flux Analysis, and it introduces the capability to use 13C labeling experimental data to constrain comprehensive genome-scale models through a technique called two-scale 13C Metabolic Flux Analysis (2S-13C MFA) [1]. In addition to several other capabilities, the jQMM is also able to predict the effects of knockouts using the MoMA and ROOM methodologies. The use of the jQMM library is illustrated through a step-by-step demonstration, which is also contained in a digital Jupyter Notebook format that enhances reproducibility and provides the capability to be adopted to the user's specific needs. As an open-source software project, users can modify and extend the code base and make improvements at will, providing a base for future modeling efforts.

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