Metabolic pathway analysis of a recombinant yeast for rational strain development

Ross Carlson, David Fell, Friedrich Srienc

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


Elementary mode analysis has been used to study a metabolic pathway model of a recombinant Saccharomyces cerevisiae system that was genetically engineered to produce the bacterial storage compound poly-β-hydroxybutyrate (PHB). The model includes biochemical reactions from the intermediary metabolism and takes into account cellular compartmentalization as well as the reversibility/irreversibility of the reactions. The reaction network connects the production and/or consumption of eight external metabolites including glucose, acetate, glycerol, ethanol, PHB, CO2, succinate, and adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Elementary mode analysis of the wild-type S. cerevisiae system reveals 241 unique reaction combinations that balance the eight external metabolites. When the recombinant PHB pathway is included, and when the reaction model is altered to simulate the experimental conditions when PHB accumulates, the analysis reveals 20 unique elementary modes. Of these 20 modes, 7 produce PHB with the optimal mode having a theoretical PHB carbon yield of 0.67. Elementary mode analysis was also used to analyze the possible effects of biochemical network modifications and altered culturing conditions. When the natively absent ATP citrate-lyase activity is added to the recombinant reaction network, the number of unique modes increases from 20 to 496, with 314 of these modes producing PHB. With this topological modification, the maximum theoretical PHB carbon yield increases from 0.67 to 0.83. Adding a transhydrogenase reaction to the model also improves the theoretical conversion of substrate into PHB. The recombinant system with the transhydrogenase reaction but without the ATP citrate-lyase reaction has an increase in PHB carbon yield from 0.67 to 0.71. When the model includes both the ATP citrate-lyase reaction and the transhydrogenase reaction, the maximum theoretical carbon yield increases to 0.84. The reaction model was also used to explore the possibility of producing PHB under anaerobic conditions. In the absence of oxygen, the recombinant reaction network possesses two elementary modes capable of producing PHB. Interestingly, both modes also produce ethanol. Elementary mode analysis provides a means of deconstructing complex metabolic networks into their basic functional units. This information can be used for analyzing existing pathways and for the rational design of further modifications that could improve the system's conversion of substrate into product.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-134
Number of pages14
JournalBiotechnology and bioengineering
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 20 2002


  • Elementary mode analysis
  • Metabolic pathway analysis
  • Poly-hydroxybutyrate
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae


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