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Identification of Cancer-associated Metabolic Vulnerabilities by Modeling Multi-objective Optimality in Metabolism

By Ziwei Dai, Liyan Xu, Hongrong Hu, Kun Liao, Shuye Deng, Qiyi Chen, Shiyu Yang, Qian Wang, Shuaishi Gao, Bo Li, Luhua Lai

Posted 04 Oct 2017
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/198333 (published DOI: 10.1186/s12964-019-0439-y)

Computational modeling of the genome-wide metabolic network is essential for designing new therapeutics targeting cancer-associated metabolic disorder, which is a hallmark of human malignancies. However, previous studies generally assumed that metabolic fluxes of cancer cells are subjected to the maximization of biomass production, despite the wide existence of trade-offs among multiple metabolic objectives. To address this issue, we developed a multi-objective model of cancer metabolism with algorithms depicting approximate Pareto surfaces and incorporating multiple omics datasets. To validate this approach, we built individualized models for NCI-60 cancer cell lines, and accurately predicted cell growth rates and other biological consequences of metabolic perturbations in these cells. By analyzing the landscape of approximate Pareto surface, we identified a list of metabolic targets essential for cancer cell proliferation and the Warburg effect, and further demonstrated their close association with cancer patient survival. Finally, metabolic targets predicted to be essential for tumor progression were validated by cell-based experiments, confirming this multi-objective modelling method as a novel and effective strategy to identify cancer-associated metabolic vulnerabilities.

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