Linking metabolomics data to underlying metabolic regulation

Thomas Nägele

    Veröffentlichungen: Beitrag in FachzeitschriftReviewPeer Reviewed


    The comprehensive experimental analysis of a metabolic constitution plays a central role in approaches of organismal systems biology. Quantifying the impact of a changing environment on the homeostasis of cellular metabolism has been the focus of numerous studies applying various metabolomics techniques. It has been proven that approaches which integrate different analytical techniques, e.g., LC-MS, GC-MS, CE-MS and H-NMR, can provide a comprehensive picture of a certain metabolic homeostasis. Identification of metabolic compounds and quantification of metabolite levels represent the groundwork for the analysis of regulatory strategies in cellular metabolism. This significantly promotes our current understanding of the molecular organization and regulation of cells, tissues and whole organisms. Nevertheless, it is demanding to elicit the pertinent information which is contained in metabolomics data sets. Based on the central dogma of molecular biology, metabolite levels and their fluctuations are the result of a directed flux of information from gene activation over transcription to translation and posttranslational modification. Hence, metabolomics data represent the summed output of a metabolic system comprising various levels of molecular organization. As a consequence, the inverse assignment of metabolomics data to underlying regulatory processes should yield information which—if deciphered correctly—provides comprehensive insight into a metabolic system. Yet, the deduction of regulatory principles is complex not only due to the high number of metabolic compounds, but also because of a high level of cellular compartmentalization and differentiation. Motivated by the question how metabolomics approaches can provide a representative view on regulatory biochemical processes, this article intends to present and discuss current metabolomics applications, strategies of data analysis and their limitations with respect to the interpretability in context of biological processes.
    FachzeitschriftFrontiers in Molecular Biosciences
    PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 6 Nov. 2014