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We study the glycosylation processes that convert initially toxic substrates to nutritionally valuable metabolites in the flavonoid biosynthesis pathway of tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) seedlings. To estimate the reaction rates we use ordinary differential equations (ODEs) to model the enzyme kinetics. A popular choice is to use a system of linear ODEs with constant kinetic rates or to use Michaelis-Menten kinetics. In reality, the catalytic rates, which are affected among other factors by kinetic constants and enzyme concentrations, are changing in time and with the approaches just mentioned, this phenomenon cannot be described. Another problem is that, in general these kinetic coefficients are not always identifiable. A third problem is that, it is not precisely known, which enzymes are catalyzing the observed glycosylation processes. With several hundred potential gene candidates, experimental validation using purified target proteins is expensive and time consuming. We aim at reducing this task via mathematical modeling to allow for the pre-selection of most potential gene candidates. In this article we discuss a fast and relatively simple approach to estimate time varying kinetic rates, with three favorable properties: Firstly, it allows for identifiable estimation of time dependent parameters in networks with a tree-like structure. Secondly, it is very fast compared to the usually applied methods, since it is not based on an iterative scheme. Thirdly, by combining the metabolite concentration data with a corresponding microarray data, it can help in detecting the genes related to the enzymatic processes. By comparing the estimated time dynamics of the catalytic rates with time series gene expression data we may assess potential candidate genes behind enzymatic reactions. As an example, we show how to apply this method to select prominent glycosyltransferase genes in tomato seedlings.
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Time series measurements of metabolites
This excel file contains the concentrations of the metabolites on different time points and under different conditions.