One ultimate goal of metabolic network modeling is the rational redesign of biochemical networks to optimize the production of certain compounds by cellular systems. Although several constraint-based optimization techniques have been developed for this purpose, methods for systematic enumeration of intervention strategies in genome-scale metabolic networks are still lacking. In principle, Minimal Cut Sets (MCSs; inclusion-minimal combinations of reaction or gene deletions that lead to the fulfilment of a given intervention goal) provide an exhaustive enumeration approach. However, their disadvantage is the combinatorial explosion in larger networks and the requirement to compute first the elementary modes (EMs) which itself is impractical in genome-scale networks.We present MCSEnumerator, a new method for effective enumeration of the smallest MCSs (with fewest interventions) in genome-scale metabolic network models. For this we combine two approaches, namely (i) the mapping of MCSs to EMs in a dual network, and (ii) a modified algorithm by which shortest EMs can be effectively determined in large networks. In this way, we can identify the smallest MCSs by calculating the shortest EMs in the dual network. Realistic application examples demonstrate that our algorithm is able to list thousands of the most efficient intervention strategies in genome-scale networks for various intervention problems. For instance, for the first time we could enumerate all synthetic lethals in E.coli with combinations of up to 5 reactions. We also applied the new algorithm exemplarily to compute strain designs for growth-coupled synthesis of different products (ethanol, fumarate, serine) by E.coli. We found numerous new engineering strategies partially requiring less knockouts and guaranteeing higher product yields (even without the assumption of optimal growth) than reported previously. The strength of the presented approach is that smallest intervention strategies can be quickly calculated and screened with neither network size nor the number of required interventions posing major challenges. © 2014 von Kamp, Klamt.
von Kamp, A., & Klamt, S. (2014). Enumeration of Smallest Intervention Strategies in Genome-Scale Metabolic Networks. PLoS Computational Biology, 10(1). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1003378