Multiplicity of steady states in glycolysis and shift of metabolic state in cultured mammalian cells

Bhanu Chandra Mulukutla, Andrew Yongky, Simon Grimm, Prodromos Daoutidis, Wei Shou Hu

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46 Scopus citations


Cultured mammalian cells exhibit elevated glycolysis flux and high lactate production. In the industrial bioprocesses for biotherapeutic protein production, glucose is supplemented to the culture medium to sustain continued cell growth resulting in the accumulation of lactate to high levels. In such fed-batch cultures, sometimes a metabolic shift from a state of high glycolysis flux and high lactate production to a state of low glycolysis flux and low lactate production or even lactate consumption is observed. While in other cases with very similar culture conditions, the same cell line and medium, cells continue to produce lactate. A metabolic shift to lactate consumption has been correlated to the productivity of the process. Cultures that exhibited the metabolic shift to lactate consumption had higher titers than those which didn't. However, the cues that trigger the metabolic shift to lactate consumption state (or low lactate production state) are yet to be identified. Metabolic control of cells is tightly linked to growth control through signaling pathways such as the AKT pathway. We have previously shown that the glycolysis of proliferating cells can exhibit bistability with well-segregated high flux and low flux states. Low lactate production (or lactate consumption) is possible only at a low glycolysis flux state. In this study, we use mathematical modeling to demonstrate that lactate inhibition together with AKT regulation on glycolysis enzymes can profoundly influence the bistable behavior, resulting in a complex steady-state topology. The transition from the high flux state to the low flux state can only occur in certain regions of the steady state topology, and therefore the metabolic fate of the cells depends on their metabolic trajectory encountering the region that allows such a metabolic state switch. Insights from such switch behavior present us with new means to control the metabolism of mammalian cells in fed-batch cultures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0121561
JournalPloS one
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 25 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The computational support from University of Minnesota Supercomputing Institute is gratefully acknowledged. Andrew Yongky was supported by the Interdisciplinary Doctoral Fellowship from the Graduate School, University of Minnesota.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Mulukutla et al.


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