OM-FBA: Integrate Transcriptomics Data with Flux Balance Analysis to Decipher the Cell Metabolism
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Constraint-based metabolic modeling such as flux balance analysis (FBA) has been widely used to simulate cell metabolism. Thanks to its simplicity and flexibility, numerous algorithms have been developed based on FBA and successfully predicted the phenotypes of various biological systems. However, their phenotype predictions may not always be accurate in FBA because of using the objective function that is assumed for cell metabolism. To overcome this challenge, we have developed a novel computational framework, namely omFBA, to integrate multi-omics data (e.g. transcriptomics) into FBA to obtain omics-guided objective functions with high accuracy. In general, we first collected transcriptomics data and phenotype data from published database (e.g. GEO database) for different microorganisms such as Saccharomyces cerevisiae.We then developed a “Phenotype Match” algorithm to derive an objective function for FBA that could lead to the most accurate estimation of the known phenotype (e.g. ethanol yield). The derived objective function was next correlated with the transcriptomics data via regression analysis to generate the omics-guided objective function, which was next used to accurately simulate cell metabolism at unknown conditions.We have applied omFBA in studying sugar metabolism of S. cerevisiae and found that the ethanol yield could be accurately predicted in most of the cases tested (>80%) by using transcriptomics data alone, and revealed valuable metabolic insights such as the dynamics of flux ratios. Overall, omFBA presents a novel platform to potentially integrate multi-omics data simultaneously and could be incorporated with other FBA-derived tools by replacing the arbitrary objective function with the omics-guided objective functions.