Model-based design of bistable cell factories for metabolic engineering

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MotivationMetabolism can exhibit dynamic phenomena like bistability due to the presence of regulatory motifs like the positive feedback loop. As cell factories, microorganisms with bistable metabolism can have a high and a low product flux at the two stable steady states, respectively. The exclusion of metabolic regulation and network dynamics limits the ability of pseudo-steady state stoichiometric models to detect the presence of bistability, and reliably assess the outcomes of design perturbations to metabolic networks.ResultsUsing kinetic models of metabolism, we assess the change in the bistable characteristics of the network, and suggest designs based on perturbations to the positive feedback loop to enable the network to produce at its theoretical maximum rate. We show that the most optimal production design in parameter space, for a small bistable metabolic network, may exist at the boundary of the bistable region separating it from the monostable region of low product fluxes. The results of our analysis can be broadly applied to other bistable metabolic networks with similar positive feedback network topologies. This can complement existing model-based design strategies by providing a smaller number of feasible designs that need to be tested in vivo.Availability and implementation informationSupplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.

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