Modelling of metabolic pathways for Saccharopolyspora erythraea using flux balance analysis
The objective of this thesis is to use metabolic modelling techniques to investigate primary and secondary metabolism in S. erythraea and from this to identify key factors controlling flux distribution during secondary metabolism. S. erythraea is a member of the actinomycetes a group of bacteria responsible for the production of a number of commercially important small molecules. Actinomycete physiology is considerably more complicated than that seen in "simple" bacteria such as E. coli. The conjecture investigated in this thesis is that metabolic modelling techniques that take into account this extra complexity should be more useful in designing strategies for overproduction of desired metabolites than simpler models. The thesis gives the first detailed description of the dynamic changes in biomass composition seen during the batch cultivation of S. erythraea. It further shows that incorporation of this information into a flux balance model of the organism's metabolism significantly improves the flux distributions generated especially in the stationary phase. Using this improved technique growth phase and stationary phase metabolism are investigated. Some of the unusual stationary phase behaviour is shown to be the result of glucose uptake being independent of demand. Rigid control of branch points in the metabolic network is not found suggesting that the organism's metabolism is flexible. A reverse metabolic engineering strategy is applied, two variants of the wild type organism are compared with an industrial strain. The industrial strain is found to have a considerably lower glucose uptake rate than the parental strain. The relationship between TCA cycle flux, oxidative phosphorylation and organic acid secretion is investigated using an uncoupler. This project demonstrates that applied correctly flux balance analysis is a powerful tool for investigating actinomycete physiology. The insights gained are of direct relevance to the commercial production of secondary metabolites in S. erythraea.