Advanced System for Comparative Analysis of Metabolism

Type of Award: Catalyst
Date Awarded: July 2006
Award End Date: June 2007
Amount Awarded: $ 135,000.00
PI(s): Wen-Hsiung Li, PhD, UChicago; Peter C. Nelson, PhD, UIC;

Abstract: A metabolic process involves a concerted interaction of many cellular components. Understanding complex processes governing metabolism requires a system biology approach and exploration of biological systems at various levels of organization: genomic, metabolic, enzymatic. Here we propose such an approach to studying metabolism to understand metabolic processes and mechanisms of adaptation to environments. Recent progress in genomics, bioinformatics and physiology allows for a systematic exploration of adaptive mechanisms responsible for diversification of biological systems. During evolution, organisms undergo co-adaptive changes such as the complementary changes of protein sequences to accommodate changes in an enzyme's active site or co-evolution of different steps in metabolic pathways. Therefore, developing a framework for studying evolution of the functional processes and phenotypic variations is essential for interpreting molecular evolution events and for understanding the diversification of metabolism among organisms.

The Goal: To understand metabolism and adaptation of organisms to the environment from a system biology viewpoint and to develop tools for identifying variations in metabolic pathways and enzymes among taxonomic groups of organisms.