Towards creating an extended metabolic model (EMM) for E. coli using enzyme promiscuity prediction and metabolomics data

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Background: Metabolic models are indispensable in guiding cellular engineering and in advancing our understanding of systems biology. As not all enzymatic activities are fully known and/or annotated, metabolic models remain incomplete, resulting in suboptimal computational analysis and leading to unexpected experimental results. We posit that one major source of unaccounted metabolism is promiscuous enzymatic activity. It is now well-accepted that most, if not all, enzymes are promiscuous - i.e., they transform substrates other than their primary substrate. However, there have been no systematic analyses of genome-scale metabolic models to predict putative reactions and/or metabolites that arise from enzyme promiscuity. Results: Our workflow utilizes PROXIMAL - a tool that uses reactant-product transformation patterns from the KEGG database - to predict putative structural modifications due to promiscuous enzymes. Using iML1515 as a model system, we first utilized a computational workflow, referred to as Extended Metabolite Model Annotation (EMMA), to predict promiscuous reactions catalyzed, and metabolites produced, by natively encoded enzymes in Escherichia coli. We predict hundreds of new metabolites that can be used to augment iML1515. We then validated our method by comparing predicted metabolites with the Escherichia coli Metabolome Database (ECMDB). Conclusions: We utilized EMMA to augment the iML1515 metabolic model to more fully reflect cellular metabolic activity. This workflow uses enzyme promiscuity as basis to predict hundreds of reactions and metabolites that may exist in E. coli but may have not been documented in iML1515 or other databases. We provide detailed analysis of 23 predicted reactions and 16 associated metabolites. Interestingly, nine of these metabolites, which are in ECMDB, have not previously been documented in any other E. coli databases. Four of the predicted reactions provide putative transformations parallel to those already in iML1515. We suggest adding predicted metabolites and reactions to iML1515 to create an extended metabolic model (EMM) for E. coli.




Amin, S. A., Chavez, E., Porokhin, V., Nair, N. U., & Hassoun, S. (2019). Towards creating an extended metabolic model (EMM) for E. coli using enzyme promiscuity prediction and metabolomics data. Microbial Cell Factories, 18(1).

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