Bidirectional reaction steps in metabolic networks: I. Modeling and simulation of carbon isotope labeling experiments

Biotechnol Bioeng. 1997 Jul 5;55(1):101-17. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1097-0290(19970705)55:1<101::AID-BIT12>3.0.CO;2-P.


The extension of metabolite balancing with carbon labeling experiments, as described by Marx et al. (Biotechnol. Bioeng. 49: 11-29), results in a much more detailed stationary metabolic flux analysis. As opposed to basic metabolite flux balancing alone, this method enables both flux directions of bidirectional reaction steps to be quantitated. However, the mathematical treatment of carbon labeling systems is much more complicated, because it requires the solution of numerous balance equations that are bilinear with respect to fluxes and fractional labeling. In this study, a universal modeling framework is presented for describing the metabolite and carbon atom flux in a metabolic network. Bidirectional reaction steps are extensively treated and their impact on the system's labeling state is investigated. Various kinds of modeling assumptions, as usually made for metabolic fluxes, are expressed by linear constraint equations. A numerical algorithm for the solution of the resulting linear constrained set of nonlinear equations is developed. The numerical stability problems caused by large bidirectional fluxes are solved by a specially developed transformation method. Finally, the simulation of carbon labeling experiments is facilitated by a flexible software tool for network synthesis. An illustrative simulation study on flux identifiability from available flux and labeling measurements in the cyclic pentose phosphate pathway of a recombinant strain of Zymomonas mobilis concludes this contribution.