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Metabolic networks and their evolution


Wagner, Andreas (2012). Metabolic networks and their evolution. In: Soyer, Orkun. Evolutionary Systems Biology. Exeter, UK: Springer, 29-52.

Abstract

Since the last decade of the twentieth century, systems biology has gained the ability to study the structure and function of genome-scale metabolic networks. These are systems of hundreds to thousands of chemical reactions that sustain life. Most of these reactions are catalyzed by enzymes which are encoded by genes. A metabolic network extracts chemical elements and energy from the environment, and converts them into forms that the organism can use. The function of a whole metabolic network constrains evolutionary changes in its parts. I will discuss here three classes of such changes, and how they are constrained by the function of the whole. These are the accumulation of amino acid changes in enzyme-coding genes, duplication of enzyme-coding genes, and changes in the regulation of enzymes. Conversely, evolutionary change in network parts can alter the function of the whole network. I will discuss here two such changes, namely the elimination of reactions from a metabolic network through loss of function mutations in enzyme-coding genes, and the addition of metabolic reactions, for example through mechanisms such as horizontal gene transfer. Reaction addition also provides a window into the evolution of metabolic innovations, the ability of a metabolism to sustain life on new sources of energy and of chemical elements.

Abstract

Since the last decade of the twentieth century, systems biology has gained the ability to study the structure and function of genome-scale metabolic networks. These are systems of hundreds to thousands of chemical reactions that sustain life. Most of these reactions are catalyzed by enzymes which are encoded by genes. A metabolic network extracts chemical elements and energy from the environment, and converts them into forms that the organism can use. The function of a whole metabolic network constrains evolutionary changes in its parts. I will discuss here three classes of such changes, and how they are constrained by the function of the whole. These are the accumulation of amino acid changes in enzyme-coding genes, duplication of enzyme-coding genes, and changes in the regulation of enzymes. Conversely, evolutionary change in network parts can alter the function of the whole network. I will discuss here two such changes, namely the elimination of reactions from a metabolic network through loss of function mutations in enzyme-coding genes, and the addition of metabolic reactions, for example through mechanisms such as horizontal gene transfer. Reaction addition also provides a window into the evolution of metabolic innovations, the ability of a metabolism to sustain life on new sources of energy and of chemical elements.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Book Section, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Language:English
Date:2012
Deposited On:07 Feb 2013 14:20
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 16:23
Publisher:Springer
Series Name:Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology
Number:751
ISSN:0065-2598
ISBN:978-1-4614-3567-9
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-3567-9 2
PubMed ID:22821452

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