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. 2013;9(3):e1002980.
doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002980. Epub 2013 Mar 21.

The RAVEN Toolbox and Its Use for Generating a Genome-Scale Metabolic Model for Penicillium Chrysogenum

Free PMC article

The RAVEN Toolbox and Its Use for Generating a Genome-Scale Metabolic Model for Penicillium Chrysogenum

Rasmus Agren et al. PLoS Comput Biol. .
Free PMC article


We present the RAVEN (Reconstruction, Analysis and Visualization of Metabolic Networks) Toolbox: a software suite that allows for semi-automated reconstruction of genome-scale models. It makes use of published models and/or the KEGG database, coupled with extensive gap-filling and quality control features. The software suite also contains methods for visualizing simulation results and omics data, as well as a range of methods for performing simulations and analyzing the results. The software is a useful tool for system-wide data analysis in a metabolic context and for streamlined reconstruction of metabolic networks based on protein homology. The RAVEN Toolbox workflow was applied in order to reconstruct a genome-scale metabolic model for the important microbial cell factory Penicillium chrysogenum Wisconsin54-1255. The model was validated in a bibliomic study of in total 440 references, and it comprises 1471 unique biochemical reactions and 1006 ORFs. It was then used to study the roles of ATP and NADPH in the biosynthesis of penicillin, and to identify potential metabolic engineering targets for maximization of penicillin production.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.


Figure 1
Figure 1. The RAVEN Toolbox.
The software allows for reconstruction of GEMs based on template models or on the KEGG database. The resulting models can be exported to a number of formats, or they can be used for various types of simulations. The RAVEN Toolbox has a strong focus on quality control. Visualization of simulation result and/or integration of other types of data can be performed by overlaying information on pre-drawn metabolic maps. The software also implements the INIT algorithm, which is a powerful approach for reconstruction of tissue-specific models . HMM: Hidden Markov model, LP: Linear programming, QP: Quadratic programming, MILP: Mixed-integer linear programming.
Figure 2
Figure 2. Prediction of subcellular localization of reactions.
Circles correspond to metabolites and lines correspond to reactions. Green lines are reactions which are in their correct compartment according to the predictions. Red are reactions which are in an incorrect compartment and orange are reactions where there is no strong indication for either compartment. A) There is a tradeoff between connectivity and agreement with predicted localization. Network 1 represents the extreme case where connectivity is much more important than predicted localization scores. All reactions are then localized to the cytosol. Network 2 represents the other extreme case where the reactions are localized only based on localization scores and with no regard for connectivity. This would result in an unconnected network. Network 3 represents the case where the network is connected, while still being in good agreement with the localization scores. The underlying assumption in the algorithm is that a good network is characterized by being fully connected, in the sense that all metabolites are synthesized in at least one reaction and consumed in at least one reaction, while still being in good agreement with the localization scores and relying on the smallest possible number of transport reactions to achieve this. B) Summary of the localization algorithm. 1. The algorithm first randomly moves one gene product and its associated reaction(s) to another compartment. The probabilities depend on the scores for the gene products in their respective compartments. 2. This may result in an unconnected network. The algorithm then tries to find a small set of reactions which, when moved, reconnects the network. If moving these reactions would result in a large decrease of fitness, then the network is connected by including transport reactions for some metabolites instead. 3. The connected network is then scored as the sum of scores for all genes in their assigned compartment, minus the cost of all transport reactions that had to be included in order to keep the network connected. The user can set the relative weight given to transport compared to gene localization. The overall problem is solved using simulated annealing.
Figure 3
Figure 3. Overview of the genes which are unique to the automatically reconstructed model and iIN800, respectively.
Saccharomyces Genome Database was used to classify the genes. Green corresponds to genes where the function is well-defined and suited for GEMs, basically enzymes involved in metabolism. Red corresponds to genes where the function is unknown, where the corresponding protein is not an enzyme or where the function is in signaling rather than metabolism. These genes should normally not be present in a GEM. Blue corresponds to genes that are putative enzymes or where the ORF is a functional enzyme in some strains but not in others. As can be seen, the automatically reconstructed model has both a larger number of unique genes and a larger proportion of enzymes compared to the published model. For iIN800 some enzymatic genes are further classified as “polymer”, “lipid” or “membrane”. These are parts of metabolism where an automatically generated model from KEGG would have particular drawbacks compared to a manually reconstructed model. “Polymer” corresponds mainly to genes involved in sugar polymer metabolism, which is an area that contains many unbalanced reactions in KEGG. Such reactions were excluded when the validation model was generated, so the corresponding genes could not be included. The same holds for “lipid”, where the reactions contain many general metabolites. This also results in excluded reactions. “Membrane” corresponds to reactions which depend on one metabolite but in two different compartments. This compartmentalization information is absent in KEGG so the equation becomes incorrect and it is therefore excluded.
Figure 4
Figure 4. Example of the visualization capabilities of the RAVEN Toolbox.
The figure shows a small section of the Penicillium metabolic map, depicting peroxisomal penicillin metabolism, superimposed on the full map. Rectangles correspond to reactions and ellipses correspond to metabolites. The broad yellow line represents the peroxisomal membrane. Reactions are colored based on the log-fold change in flux between a reference and a test case, where green represents a higher flux in the test case and red a lower flux. The positive direction of reversible reactions (defined as from left to right in the model equations) is indicated by a red arrow head. For reactions carrying flux in any of the simulated cases, the flux values are printed in the reaction box. The small squares to the right of some of the reactions correspond to the log-fold change of transcript levels of the genes associated to that reaction. The gene-reaction relation is retrieved from the model structure and not implicitly specified in the CellDesigner map.
Figure 5
Figure 5. Evidence level for the P. chrysogenum metabolic network.
A) Properties of the reconstructed network. The top bar shows the support for the 1471 unique reactions (not counting exchange reactions) sorted by the type of evidence. The bottom bar shows the orphan reactions; reactions inferred without supporting ORFs or literature references. B) ORF classification. The ORFs in the model are classified into broad groups based on KEGG classification.
Figure 6
Figure 6. Venn diagrams of model statistics for the template models A. oryzae iWV1314 and A. niger iMA871 and the P. chrysogenum iAL1006 model.
A) The number of chemically distinct metabolites shared and specific for the three models, not counting presence in multiple compartments. B) The number of unique reactions shared and specific for the three models. The overlap with A. nidulans iHD666 is not shown here.
Figure 7
Figure 7. Integrative analysis of a high and a low producing strain.
Depicts synthesis pathways of penicillin and important precursors. Green boxes correspond to reactions identified as being transcriptionally controlled and up-regulated by the algorithm (see text). Metabolites around which significant transcriptional changes occur compared to a low producing strain are colored red. SC: side chain (e. g. the precursor molecule phenylacetic acid). The biosynthesis of penicillin starts with the condensation of the three amino acids α-aminoadipate (an intermediate in the L-lysine biosynthesis pathway), L-cystein, and L-valine to form the tripeptide ACV. ACV is further converted to isopenicillin N. For the industrially relevant types of penicillin a side-chain is supplied to the media. This side-chain is activated by ligation to coenzyme A. In the last step of penicillin biosynthesis an acyl transferase exchanges the α-aminoadipate moiety of isopenicillin N with the side-chain, thereby generating penicillin and regenerating α-aminoadipate. Since L-cystein is a sulfur-containing amino acid penicillin production is also tightly associated with sulfur metabolism. The corresponding model IDs for the enzymes are indicated within parentheses. [1] homocitrate synthase (r0683); [2] homocitrate dehydrase (r0684); [3] homoaconitate hydrase (r0685); [4] homoisocitrate dehydrogenase (r0688); [5] α-aminoadipate aminotransferase (r0689); [6] homoserine transacetylase (r0600); [7] O-acetylhomoserine sulfhydrylase (r0601); [8] cystathione-β-synthase (r0632); [9] cystathione-γ-lyase (r0606); [10] acetate CoA ligase (r0025); [11] acetolactate synthase (r0465); [12] ketol-acid reductoisomerase (r0653); [13] dihydroxy acid dehydrase (r0656); [14] branched chain amino acid transferase (r0648); [15] ACV synthase (r0814); [16] isopenicillin N synthase (r0812); [17] acyl CoA ligase (side chain dependent, reaction is for phenylacetate CoA ligase) (r0747); [18] isopenicillin N N-acyltransferase (r0813); [19] sulfate permease (r1408); [20] sulfate adenyl transferase (r1151); [21] adenyl sulfate kinase (r1147); [22] phosphoadenyl sulfate reductase (r1148); [23] sulfite reductase (r1149); [24] thioredoxin reductase (r0419); [25] 3′(2′),5′-bisphosphate nucleotidase (r1150).
Figure 8
Figure 8. Overview of the iAL1006 reconstruction process.

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This project has been financed by European Research Council (Grant 247013), the EU-funded project SYSINBIO and Sandoz. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

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