Evolution of metabolisms: a new method for the comparison of metabolic pathways using genomics information.

Research paper by C V CV Forst, K K Schulten

Indexed on: 03 Dec '99Published on: 03 Dec '99Published in: Journal of computational biology : a journal of computational molecular cell biology


The abundance of information provided by completely sequenced genomes defines a starting point for new insights in the multilevel organization of organisms and their evolution. At the lowest level enzymes and other protein complexes are formed by aggregating multiple polypeptides. At a higher level enzymes group conceptually into metabolic pathways as part of a dynamic information-processing system, and substrates are processed by enzymes yielding other substrates. A method based on a combination of sequence information with graph topology of the underlying pathway is presented. With this approach pathways of different organisms are related to each other by phylogenetic analysis, extending conventional phylogenetic analysis of individual enzymes. The new method is applied to pathways related to electron transfer and to the Krebs citric acid cycle. In addition to providing a more comprehensive understanding of similarities and differences between organisms, this method indicates different evolutionary rates between substrates and enzymes.