Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Models of metabolism are often used in biotechnology and pharmaceutical research to identify drug targets or increase the direct production of valuable compounds. Due to the complexity of large metabolic systems, a number of conclusions have been drawn using mathematical methods with simplifying assumptions. For example, constraint-based models describe changes of internal concentrations that occur much quicker than alterations in cell physiology. Thus, metabolite concentrations and reaction fluxes are fixed to constant values. This greatly reduces the mathematical complexity, while providing a reasonably good description of the system in steady state. However, without a large number of constraints, many different flux sets can describe the optimal model and we obtain no information on how metabolite levels dynamically change. Thus, to accurately determine what is taking place within the cell, finer quality data and more detailed models need to be constructed.