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On the optimality of the enzyme-substrate relationship in bacteria.


Much recent progress has been made to understand the impact of proteome allocation on bacterial growth; much less is known about the relationship between the abundances of the enzymes and their substrates, which jointly determine metabolic fluxes. Here, we report a correlation between the concentrations of enzymes and their substrates in Escherichia coli. We suggest this relationship to be a consequence of optimal resource allocation, subject to an overall constraint on the biomass density: For a cellular reaction network composed of effectively irreversible reactions, maximal reaction flux is achieved when the dry mass allocated to each substrate is equal to the dry mass of the unsaturated (or "free") enzymes waiting to consume it. Calculations based on this optimality principle successfully predict the quantitative relationship between the observed enzyme and metabolite abundances, parameterized only by molecular masses and enzyme-substrate dissociation constants (Km). The corresponding organizing principle provides a fundamental rationale for cellular investment into different types of molecules, which may aid in the design of more efficient synthetic cellular systems.

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