Reconstruction and Analysis of Thermodynamically Constrained Models Reveal Metabolic Responses of a Deep-Sea Bacterium to Temperature Perturbations

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Microbial acclimation to different temperature conditions can involve broad changes in cell composition and metabolic efficiency. A systems-level view of these metabolic responses in nonmesophilic organisms, however, is currently missing. In this study, thermodynamically constrained genome-scale models were applied to simulate the metabolic responses of a deep-sea psychrophilic bacterium, Shewanella psychrophila WP2, under suboptimal (4°C), optimal (15°C), and supraoptimal (20°C) growth temperatures. The models were calibrated with experimentally determined growth rates of WP2. Gibbs free energy change of reactions (DrG9), metabolic fluxes, and metabolite concentrations were predicted using random simulations to characterize temperature-dependent changes in the metabolism. The modeling revealed the highest metabolic efficiency at the optimal temperature, and it suggested distinct patterns of ATP production and consumption that could lead to lower metabolic efficiency under suboptimal or supraoptimal temperatures. The modeling also predicted rearrangement of fluxes through multiple metabolic pathways, including the glycolysis pathway, Entner-Doudoroff pathway, tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle, and electron transport system, and these predictions were corroborated through comparisons to WP2 transcriptomes. Furthermore, predictions of metabolite concentrations revealed the potential conservation of reducing equivalents and ATP in the suboptimal temperature, consistent with experimental observations from other psychrophiles. Taken together, the WP2 models provided mechanistic insights into the metabolism of a psychrophile in response to different temperatures.

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