Genome-scale metabolic models (GSMM) integrating transcriptomics have been widely used to study cancer metabolism. This integration is achieved through logical rules that describe the association between genes, proteins, and reactions (GPRs). However, current gene-to-reaction formulation lacks the stoichiometry describing the transcript copies necessary to generate an active catalytic unit, which limits our understanding of how genes modulate metabolism. The present work introduces a new state-of-the-art GPR formulation that considers the stoichiometry of the transcripts (S-GPR). As case of concept, this novel gene-to-reaction formulation was applied to investigate the metabolic effects of the chronic exposure to Aldrin, an endocrine disruptor, on DU145 prostate cancer cells. To this aim we integrated the transcriptomic data from Aldrin-exposed and non-exposed DU145 cells through S-GPR or GPR into a human GSMM by applying different constraint-based-methods. Our study revealed a significant improvement of metabolite consumption/production predictions when S-GPRs are implemented. Furthermore, our computational analysis unveiled important alterations in carnitine shuttle and prostaglandine biosynthesis in Aldrin-exposed DU145 cells that is supported by bibliographic evidences of enhanced malignant phenotype. The method developed in this work enables a more accurate integration of gene expression data into model-driven methods. Thus, the presented approach is conceptually new and paves the way for more in-depth studies of aberrant cancer metabolism and other diseases with strong metabolic component with important environmental and clinical implications.
- Endocrine disruptors
- Genome-scale metabolic model
- Prostate Cancer
- Stoichiometric gene-protein-reaction association
- Transcriptomic data integration