Most metabolic pathways contain more reactions than metabolites and therefore have a wide stoichiometric matrix that corresponds to infinitely many possible flux distributions that are perfectly compatible with the dynamics of the metabolites in a given dataset. This under-determinedness poses a challenge for the quantitative characterization of flux distributions from time series data and thus for the design of adequate, predictive models. Here we propose a method that reduces the degrees of freedom in a stepwise manner and leads to a dynamic flux distribution that is, in a statistical sense, likely to be close to the true distribution.Results:
We applied the proposed method to the lignin biosynthesis pathway in switchgrass. The system consists of 16 metabolites and 23 enzymatic reactions. It has seven degrees of freedom and therefore admits a large space of dynamic flux distributions that all fit a set of metabolic time series data equally well. The proposed method reduces this space in a systematic and biologically reasonable manner and converges to a likely dynamic flux distribution in just a few iterations. The estimated solution and the true flux distribution, which is known in this case, show excellent agreement and thereby lend support to the method.Availability and Implementation:
The computational model was implemented in MATLAB (version R2014a, The MathWorks, Natick, MA). The source code is available at https://github.gatech.edu/VoitLab/Stepwise-Inference-of-Likely-Dynamic-Flux-Distributions and www.bst.bme.gatech.edu/research.php.Contact:
firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.comSupplementary information:
Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.