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Metabolic pathway alignment between species using a comprehensive and flexible similarity measure

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Author(s): Li Yunlei | de Ridder Dick | de Groot Marco | Reinders Marcel

Journal: BMC Systems Biology
ISSN 1752-0509

Volume: 2;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 111;
Date: 2008;
Original page

ABSTRACT
Abstract Background Comparative analysis of metabolic networks in multiple species yields important information on their evolution, and has great practical value in metabolic engineering, human disease analysis, drug design etc. In this work, we aim to systematically search for conserved pathways in two species, quantify their similarities, and focus on the variations between them. Results We present an efficient framework, Metabolic Pathway Alignment and Scoring (M-PAS), for identifying and ranking conserved metabolic pathways. M-PAS aligns all reactions in entire metabolic networks of two species and assembles them into pathways, taking mismatches, gaps and crossovers into account. It uses a comprehensive scoring function, which quantifies pathway similarity such that we can focus on different pathways given different biological motivations. Using M-PAS, we detected 1198 length-four pathways fully conserved between Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Escherichia coli, and also revealed 1399 cases of a species using a unique route in otherwise highly conserved pathways. Conclusion Our method efficiently automates the process of exploring reaction arrangement possibilities, both between species and within species, to find conserved pathways. We not only reconstruct conventional pathways such as those found in KEGG, but also discover new pathway possibilities. Our results can help to generate hypotheses on missing reactions and manifest differences in highly conserved pathways, which is useful for biology and life science applications.
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