A regulated genome-scale model for Clostridium acetobutylicum ATCC 824 was developed based on its metabolic network reconstruction. To aid model convergence and limit the number of flux-vector possible solutions (the size of the phenotypic solution space), modeling strategies were developed to impose a new type of constraint at the endo–exo-metabolome interface. This constraint is termed the specific proton flux state, and its use enabled accurate prediction of the extracellular medium pH during vegetative growth of batch cultures. The specific proton flux refers to the influx or efflux of free protons (per unit biomass) across the cell membrane. A specific proton flux state encompasses a defined range of specific proton fluxes and includes all metabolic flux distributions resulting in a specific proton flux within this range. Effective simulation of time-course batch fermentation required the use of independent flux balance solutions from an optimum set of specific proton flux states. Using a real-coded genetic algorithm to optimize temporal bounds of specific proton flux states, we show that six separate specific proton flux states are required to model vegetative-growth metabolism and accurately predict the extracellular medium pH. Further, we define the apparent proton flux stoichiometry per weak acids efflux and show that this value decreases from ∼3.5 mol of protons secreted per mole of weak acids at the start of the culture to ∼0 at the end of vegetative growth. Calculations revealed that when specific weak acids production is maximized in vegetative growth, the net proton exchange between the cell and environment occurs primarily through weak acids efflux (apparent proton flux stoichiometry is 1). However, proton efflux through cation channels during the early stages of acidogenesis was found to be significant. We have also developed the concept of numerically determined sub-systems of genome-scale metabolic networks here as a sub-network with a one-dimensional null space basis set. A numerically determined sub-system was constructed in the genome-scale metabolic network to study the flux magnitudes and directions of acetylornithine transaminase, alanine racemase, and D-alanine transaminase. These results were then used to establish additional constraints for the genome-scale model. Biotechnol. Bioeng. © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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