In the field of functional genomics increasing effort is being undertaken to analyze the function of orphan genes using metabolome data. Improved analytical equipment allows screening simultaneously for a high number of metabolites. Such metabolite profiles are analyzed using multivariate data analysis techniques and changes in the genotype will in many cases lead to different metabolite profiles. Here, a theoretical framework that may be applied to identify the function of orphan genes is presented. The approach is based on a combination of metabolome analysis combined with in silico pathway analysis. Pathway analysis may be carried out using convex analysis and a change in the active pathway structure of deletion mutants expressed in a different metabolite profile may disclose the function or the functional class of an orphan gene. The concept is illustrated using a simplified model for growth of Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
Förster, J., Gombert, A. K., & Nielsen, J. (2002). A functional genomics approach using metabolomics and in silico pathway analysis. Biotechnology and Bioengineering (Print), 79(7), 703-712. https://doi.org/10.1002/bit.10378