Competition for enzymes in metabolic pathways: implications for optimal distributions of enzyme concentrations and for the distribution of flux control

Biosystems. 1999 Dec;54(1-2):1-14. doi: 10.1016/s0303-2647(99)00059-3.


The structures of biochemical pathways are assumed to be determined by evolutionary optimization processes. In the framework of mathematical models, these structures should be explained by the formulation of optimization principles. In the present work, the principle of minimal total enzyme concentration at fixed steady state fluxes is applied to metabolic networks. According to this principle there exists a competition of the reactions for the available amount of enzymes such that all biological functions are maintained. In states which fulfil these optimization criteria the enzyme concentrations are distributed in a non-uniform manner among the reactions. This result has consequences for the distribution of flux control. It is shown that the flux control matrix c, the elasticity matrix epsilon, and the vector e of enzyme concentrations fulfil in optimal states the relations c(T)e = e and epsilon(T)e = 0. Starting from a well-balanced distribution of enzymes the minimization of total enzyme concentration leads to a lowering of the SD of the flux control coefficients.

MeSH terms

  • Biological Evolution
  • Enzymes / metabolism*
  • Metabolism
  • Models, Biological*


  • Enzymes