Computation of condition-dependent proteome allocation reveals variability in the macro and micro nutrient requirements for growth

Colton J. Lloyd, Jonathan Monk, Laurence Yang, Ali Ebrahim, Bernhard O. Palsson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

53 Downloads (Pure)


Author summary Escherichia coli is capable of growing in many environments, each of which requires a different collection of enzymes to metabolize the nutrients within that environment. Each individual enzyme requires its own set of amino acids and oftentimes cofactors, which are accessory molecules essential for the enzyme to function. Thus, the composition of the micronutrients (amino acids, cofactors, etc.) within a cell will differ depending on its metabolic needs. The presented work is the first effort to employ metabolic models to probe the connection between E. coli's diverse growth environments and its biomass composition. We first show how differences in model-predicted enzyme use for aerobic or anaerobic growth results in distinct amino acid and cofactor usage. Alternatively, we show that the metabolic models can predict how modifying the cell's biomass composition will affect growth. For example, by modeling the exposure of E. coli to trimethoprim or sulfamethoxazole-two antibiotics that target folate (vitamin B9) synthesis-we predicted how E. coli could adapt to grow under folate-limited conditions. This work demonstrates how models can be used to study antibiotic resistance of drugs that target amino acid or cofactor synthesis. Sustaining a robust metabolic network requires a balanced and fully functioning proteome. In addition to amino acids, many enzymes require cofactors (coenzymes and engrafted prosthetic groups) to function properly. Extensively validated resource allocation models, such as genome-scale models of metabolism and gene expression (ME-models), have the ability to compute an optimal proteome composition underlying a metabolic phenotype, including the provision of all required cofactors. Here we apply the ME-model for Escherichia coli K-12 MG1655 to computationally examine how environmental conditions change the proteome and its accompanying cofactor usage. We found that: (1) The cofactor requirements computed by the ME-model mostly agree with the standard biomass objective function used in models of metabolism alone (M-models); (2) ME-model computations reveal non-intuitive variability in cofactor use under different growth conditions; (3) An analysis of ME-model predicted protein use in aerobic and anaerobic conditions suggests an enrichment in the use of peroxyl scavenging acids in the proteins used to sustain aerobic growth; (4) The ME-model could describe how limitation in key protein components affect the metabolic state of E. coli. Genome-scale models have thus reached a level of sophistication where they reveal intricate properties of functional proteomes and how they support different E. coli lifestyles.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1007817
JournalPLOS Computational Biology
Issue number6
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - 2021


Dive into the research topics of 'Computation of condition-dependent proteome allocation reveals variability in the macro and micro nutrient requirements for growth'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this