1. Running an existing model
    1. How to run an existing model?
    2. How to visualize results of RBApy simulation?
    3. How to change the medium?
    4. How to change model parameters?
  2. Creating a new RBA model
    1. What do I need to create a new RBA model?
    2. How to create my new RBA model?
    3. How to refine my new RBA model?
      1. Molecular machineries
      2. Helper files
  3. Calibrating an RBA model
    1. Calibration configuration files
    2. Estimating protein percentage per compartment
    3. Estimating portion of nonenzymatic protein per compartment
    4. Estimating the apparent catalytic rates of enzymes
  4. Details on the SBML requirements
    1. Gene-association requirements
    2. External compartments
  5. Miscellaneous
    1. Decision variable IDs within RBApy
    2. Isoenzymes


1. Running an existing model

1.1 How to run an existing model?

There are currently two available RBA models (of Bacillus subtilis and Escherichia coli), and they can be found on our github repository: Bacterial-RBA-models. To run them, or any other existing RBA model, open a console at the root of the RBApy repository, and run:

python solve_rba_model.py path/to/model 

where the path points to the directory containing the XML files defining the RBA model.

1.2 How to visualize results of RBApy simulations?

Results of RBApy simulations can be exported in formats supported for visualization of genome-scale flux data with Escher maps and protein data with Proteomaps. To export flux data in a format compatible with Escher maps (JSON), a line can be added to you simulation script:


Click to see an example of fluxes visualized using Escher maps:

Example Escher map

The generated file can then be uploaded to Escher maps via their menu Data -> Load reaction data. The function supports json and csv file types. If merge_isozyme_reactions option is set to True, all the reactions which are catalyzed by the same enzymatic function, but of different protein composition are summed up under the original reaction ID (check section 5.2). If the reactions IDs are preceeded by an "R_" prefix, but the visualization tool expects it to be absent, it can be removed by setting the option remove_prefix to True.

Proteome prediction can be visualized via Proteomaps. The file compatible with their input format can be generated by adding this line to your simulation script:

results.write_proteins('path_to_file', file_type='csv')

Of course, Proteomaps will be able to visualize your data provided that your proteins are assigned KEGG IDs. In case other ID types are used, RBApy doesn't convert them to KEGG IDs. This has to be taken care of by the user.

Click to see an example of protein concentrations visualized using Proteomaps:

Example Proteomap

1.3 How to change the medium?

The medium composition is defined in the file medium.tsv. The file is located in the directory containing the XML files defining the RBA model. The first column contains the prefixes of metabolites that are detected in the external compartments in the SBML (see section 5.1). The second column corresponds to the concentration of metabolites in millimoles.

To change the medium composition:

Here RBApy evaluates the apparent catalytic rates of transporters using the new metabolite concentrations, before solving the optimization problem.

1.4 Can I change my model parameters?

RBA model parameters are defined in the file parameters.xml. This file is located in the directory containing the XML files of the RBA model.

To update parameters Open the file parameters.xml Update the value of the parameter that you want to change. For instance:

Original file:
the function ribosomeEfficiencyMM describing the efficiencies of ribosomes
max(Ymin, kmax*µ/(Km+µ))
  <function id="ribosomeEfficiencyMM" type="michaelisMenten">
                <parameter id="kmax" value="97200"/>
                <parameter id="Km" value="0.5"/>
                <parameter id="Y_MIN" value="32400"/>

Change the maximal rate of translation from 97200 aa/h to 48600 aa/h:

New file:
the function ribosomeEfficiencyMM describing the efficiencies of ribosomes
max(Ymin, kmax*µ/(Km+µ))
  <function id="ribosomeEfficiencyMM" type="michaelisMenten">
                <parameter id="kmax" value="48600"/>
                <parameter id="Km" value="0.5"/>
                <parameter id="Y_MIN" value="32400"/>

Run the model using:

 python solve_rba_model.py path/to/model 

Here RBApy will automatically read the new values. For the units of all parameters, please refer to the paper Goelzer et al. 2015, or to the description of the XML format defining RBA models.

Be careful when you update some parameters! Some parameters such as the fraction of total proteins allocated to the different compartments must sum to 1. The fraction of non-enzymatic proteins within compartments should be lower than 1.

2. Creating a new RBA model

2.1 What do I need to create a new RBA model?

To create your own RBA model, you need the full rbapy package, and: Thanks to the taxon ID, RBApy will automatically download the latest release of your organism on Uniprot and will try to match Uniprot gene names with the gene names of the SBML file.

2.2 How to create my new RBA model?

Define one input directory and put the SBML file, the fasta files in the input directory. Fill in the file input/params.in, where you will specify the taxon ID, the path to the input and output directories, the name of the SBML file, and the external compartments of the SBML file Open a console at the root of the RBApy repository and run:
python generate_rba_model.py path/to/params.in
This execution generates: You can now refine your model (see section 2.3) or run your model (see section 1.1).

2.3 How to refine my RBA model?

After the first run of model generation, one has: To refine an RBA model, the user can: After the first run of model generation, one has: We strongly recommend the user to start the edition of helper and fasta files in the following order:
  1. Update the helper file location_map.tsv (section
  2. Update the helper file metabolites.tsv (section
  3. Update the fasta files with user-defined molecular machineries (section 2.3.1)
  4. Update helper files specific to proteins: location.tsv (section, cofactors.tsv (section and subunits.tsv (section
During step 3, the new proteins detected within the fasta files will be automatically added in files location.tsv, cofactors.tsv and subunits.tsv if missing information is detected. Therefore doing step 3 before step 4 enables to edit these files only one time. The user can regenerate the model each time a helper file is modified using
 python generate_rba_model.py path/to/params.in
Or only at the end. The user can also choose to solve the model each time to see the impact of these modifications on the simulations.
 python solve_rba_model.py path/to/model

2.3.1 Insertion of user-defined molecular machineries

During the first run of RBApy, the package will use by default the ribosome composition, the average chaperone composition and the tRNAs of Escherichia coli. To adapt the machineries to the organism of interest, simply substitute the proteins/rnas within the files while keeping strictly the format.

An example: the ribosome machinery. The ribosome is usually composed of 3rRNAs (5S, 15S, 23S), around 50 ribosomal proteins, and the initiation, elongation and release factors. The ribosome.fasta lists all the machinery composition in a pseudo-fasta format:

>rba|P0AG67|RS1_ECOLI 30S ribosomal protein S1 OS=Escherichia coli (strain K12) GN=rpsA PE=1 SV=1|protein|1
The format of entry is as follows:
>rba | Molecule ID | Molecule Name | Molecule Type | Molecule Stoichiometry
--- Sequence ----

During the parsing of the fasta file, each time a protein is read, RBApy tries to extract automatically the location (see section, cofactors (see of the protein. In case of ambiguities, the protein is also inserted in the corresponding files locations.tsv, and cofactors.tsv. If the protein is not present in the uniprot file, the protein is still inserted in proteins.xml using the amino-acid sequence of the fasta file, and in processes.xml. By default, the protein will be located in the cytoplasm, without cofactors. Moreover, the unknown protein is also inserted in the file unknown_proteins.tsv (see

An advice: For the ID of proteins, we recommend to use either the Uniprot protein ID (e.g. P21464), either the absolute identifier of the gene name (e.g. BSU16490), but not the gene name in 4 letters (e.g. rpsB). Indeed, the field gene name in Uniprot contains the current gene name of the protein, but also all synonyms. Sometimes, some genes may have been renamed, which can result in multiple entries for the 4-letters gene name.

To update the RBA model, re-run the model generation by
python generate_rba_model.py path/to/params.in
Now look in the files

2.3.2 Helper files Metabolites.tsv

The file metabolites.tsv is critical for RBApy. First It identifies metabolic precursors that are consumed/produced by the cellular processes to build biomass component. Second, the file is also used to link these metabolic biobricks to SBML ids of metabolites from the metabolic network.

In metabolites.tsv, the user declare:
  1. M1: All metabolic precursors that are consumed/produced by the cellular processes to build proteins, RNAs, DNAs. A minima, RBApy expects to find the metabolic precursors involved in the default processes: Replication, Transcription, Translation, Folding, RNA degradation, which are: all charged/uncharged tRNAs, NMP, NDP, NTP, dNTP, water, protons, mono- and di-phosphate. Therefore, RBApy tries to detect common SBML IDs for these precursors, namely:
    • M_trnaala_c, M_trnaarg_c, ..., M_trnaval_c for uncharged tRNAs
    • M_alatrna_c, M_argtrna_c, ..., M_valtrna_c for charged tRNAs
    • M_ATP_c, M_GTP_c, M_CTP_c, M_UTP_c, for ATP, GTP, CTP and UTP respectively
    • M_ADP_c, M_GDP_c, M_CDP_c, M_UDP_c, for ADP, GDP, CDP and UDP respectively
    • M_AMP_c, M_GMP_c, M_CMP_c, M_UMP_c, for AMP, GMP, CMP and UMP respectively
    • M_h2o_c, M_h_c, M_p_c, M_pp_c for water, proton, mono- and di-phosphate respectively
  2. M2: All ions/cofactors required to have the active form of a protein. The ions and cofactors are automatically extracted from the Uniprot annotation (see section and reported in metabolites.tsv for ID matching.

  3. M3: All metabolites for which the intracellular concentration is growth-rate independent, and the value of this concentration. The set of growth-rate independent metabolites includes building blocks for cell wall and membrane synthesis, a few metabolites such as co-enzyme A. Usually these metabolites are present in the biomass reaction of the SBML file. Exclude all metabolites from the set M1 and M2 from the biomass reaction. The remaining ones form the set M3. The targeted concentrations correspond to the stoichiometric coefficients of the biomass reaction.
By default, the file is built using the sets M1, M2 and M3 of the bacterium Bacillus subtilis.

The file metabolites.tsv, is organized in 4 columns, entitled ID, NAME, SBML ID and CONCENTRATION.

To update the RBA model, re-run the model generation by
python generate_rba_model.py path/to/params.in

Now look at the files Macrocomponents.tsv (optional)

The file macrocomponents.tsv describes the metabolic requirements to build macro-components such as the cell wall or the cytoplasmic membrane. Usually, the intracellular concentration of such macro-components is growth-rate independent. The file describes which metabolite is required for macro-component synthesis, and the value of this concentration.

The file is organized in two columns, TARGET_METABOLITE and TARGET_FLUX.

The pipeline will automatically add to each metabolic precursor a consumption flux equal to µC, where µ is the growth rate.

To update the RBA model, re-run the model generation by

python generate_rba_model.py path/to/params.in
Remark: This file is optional, because the identification of metabolic precursors and their targeted concentrations can also be defined in metabolites.tsv. However, the user may choose to define these precursors in a separate file, because of the specific role of macro-components in the cell. Location_map.tsv

The file location_map.tsv is used to link uniprot location ids with user-defined compartment ids. For every uniprot location, user may fill in a name compartment (e.g. SBML compartment names). The idea behind this file is that it can be used to fuse compartments or ignore them. If the field is left empty (or [MISSING]), a compartment named after uniprot location is created.

An example:
Cell outer membrane Cell_outer_membrane
Cell inner membrane Cell_inner_membrane
Cytoplasm Cytoplasm
Cell membrane Cell_inner_membrane
Periplasm Periplasm
Membrane Cell_inner_membrane
Secreted Secreted

In this example, proteins that have the location "Cell membrane" and "Membrane" have the same location in the RBA model: "Cell_inner_membrane"

To update the RBA model, re-run the model generation by

 python generate_rba_model.py path/to/params.in
Now look at the file metabolism.xml that contains the list of cellular compartments. Compartments are updated as follows:
    <compartment id="Cell_inner_membrane"/>
    <compartment id="Cytoplasm"/>
    <compartment id="Cell_outer_membrane"/>
    <compartment id="Periplasm"/>
    <compartment id="Secreted"/>
  </listOfCompartments> Locations.tsv

RBApy parses automatically the field SUBCELLULAR LOCATION [CC] of the Uniprot file to determine the location of a protein. Proteins for which uniprot has no location data are listed in the file locations.tsv . The file locations.tsv contains 4 columns, named

Here is the example of the protein P39400 (Uniprot ID) for which the field SUBCELLULAR LOCATION [CC] of the Uniprot file was missing.

P39400lgoD yjjN b4358 JW5793L-galactonate-5-dehydrogenase (EC 1.1.1.-)Periplasm
In this example, the protein P39400 will be assigned to the compartment "Periplasm".

To update the RBA model, re-run the model generation by

 python generate_rba_model.py path/to/params.in

Now look at the file proteins.xml that contains the localisation and composition in amino-acids and cofactors of proteins. The attribute "compartment" is updated with the new localisation of the protein.

 <macromolecule id="b4358" compartment="Periplasm">
        <componentReference component="A" stoichiometry="39"/>
        <componentReference component="C" stoichiometry="8"/>
        <componentReference component="E" stoichiometry="20"/>
        <componentReference component="D" stoichiometry="16"/>
        <componentReference component="G" stoichiometry="32"/>
        <componentReference component="F" stoichiometry="13"/>
        <componentReference component="I" stoichiometry="26"/>
        <componentReference component="H" stoichiometry="9"/>
        <componentReference component="K" stoichiometry="16"/>
        <componentReference component="M" stoichiometry="8"/>
        <componentReference component="L" stoichiometry="24"/>
        <componentReference component="N" stoichiometry="14"/>
        <componentReference component="Q" stoichiometry="17"/>
        <componentReference component="P" stoichiometry="19"/>
        <componentReference component="S" stoichiometry="13"/>
        <componentReference component="R" stoichiometry="15"/>
        <componentReference component="T" stoichiometry="16"/>
        <componentReference component="W" stoichiometry="2"/>
        <componentReference component="V" stoichiometry="28"/>
        <componentReference component="Y" stoichiometry="5"/>
        <componentReference component="CHEBI:29105" stoichiometry="2"/>
</macromolecule> Cofactors.tsv

RBApy parses automatically the field COFACTOR of the Uniprot file to determine the cofactors of a protein. However, the field COFACTOR is often written in natural language, which can lead to difficulties during the parsing. Therefore, for every protein having ambiguities, the file cofactors.tsv lists name, chebi identifier and stoichiometry of cofactors per protein. If one protein has several cofactors, several lines corresponding to the protein are present in cofactors.tsv. Based on the last column (containing uniprot cofactor annotation), user should check inferred values and fill in fields tagged as [MISSING]. Important: if annotation says that there is no cofactor, do not remove line from csv file. Ignore name and chebi fields and set stoichiometry to 0.

The file cofactors.tsv contains 5 columns:

Here is the example of the protein P0ACC7 (Uniprot ID) for which the field COFACTOR cannot be automatically parsed. The following entries are automatically inserted in the file cofactor.tsv. The user must indicate which cofactor the protein will use:

P0ACC7CHEBI:18420Mg(2+)1Binds 1 Mg(2+) ion per subunit (PubMed:17473010). Can also use Co(2+) ion to a lesser extent (PubMed:11329257). {ECO:0000269|PubMed:11329257, ECO:0000269|PubMed:17473010};
P0ACC7CHEBI:48828Co(2+)0Binds 1 Mg(2+) ion per subunit (PubMed:17473010). Can also use Co(2+) ion to a lesser extent (PubMed:11329257). {ECO:0000269|PubMed:11329257, ECO:0000269|PubMed:17473010};
Two cofactors (Mg(2+) and Co(2+)) were detected during the parsing of cofactors. In the example, only Mg(2+) will be used per monomer of P0ACC7.

To update the RBA model, re-run the generation by

python generate_rba_model.py path/to/params.in

Now look at the file proteins.xml that contains the localisation and composition in amino-acids and cofactors of proteins. The cofactor and its stoichiometry are added (In the example, the protein entry "P0ACC7" corresponds to the gene name "b3730"):

<macromolecule id="b3730" compartment="Cytoplasm">
        <componentReference component="A" stoichiometry="45"/>
        <componentReference component="C" stoichiometry="4"/>
        <componentReference component="E" stoichiometry="26"/>
        <componentReference component="D" stoichiometry="29"/>
        <componentReference component="G" stoichiometry="49"/>
        <componentReference component="F" stoichiometry="7"/>
        <componentReference component="I" stoichiometry="30"/>
        <componentReference component="H" stoichiometry="12"/>
        <componentReference component="K" stoichiometry="25"/>
        <componentReference component="M" stoichiometry="9"/>
        <componentReference component="L" stoichiometry="45"/>
        <componentReference component="CHEBI:18420" stoichiometry="1.0"/>
        <componentReference component="N" stoichiometry="24"/>
        <componentReference component="Q" stoichiometry="20"/>
        <componentReference component="P" stoichiometry="13"/>
        <componentReference component="S" stoichiometry="11"/>
        <componentReference component="R" stoichiometry="24"/>
        <componentReference component="T" stoichiometry="30"/>
        <componentReference component="W" stoichiometry="3"/>
        <componentReference component="V" stoichiometry="39"/>
        <componentReference component="Y" stoichiometry="11"/>
</macromolecule> Subunits.tsv

RBApy parses automatically the field SUBUNIT STRUCTURE [CC] of the Uniprot file to determine the stoichiometry of a protein within its enzymatic complex. For every ambiguous and empty entry, gene name and protein name are provided for proper identification in the file subunits.tsv. By default, the stoichiometry of the protein is set to 1. User should read annotation field (or any other sources of information) and update the stoichiometry if necessary.

Subunits.tsv contains 5 columns, named

Here is the example of the protein P68699 (Uniprot ID) for which the field SUBUNIT STRUCTURE [CC] of the Uniprot file cannot be parsed automatically. The protein P68699 is the ATP synthase subunit c, which is present in 10 copies per complex. The user must indicate the stoichiometry of P68699 (the default value is 1):

P6869910atpE papH uncE b3737 JW3715ATP synthase subunit c (ATP synthase F(0) sector subunit c) (Dicyclohexylcarbodiimide-binding protein) (F-type ATPase subunit c) (F-ATPase subunit c) (Lipid-binding protein)SUBUNIT: F-type ATPases have 2 components, F(1) - the catalytic core - and F(0) - the membrane proton channel. F(1) has five subunits: alpha(3), beta(3), gamma(1), delta(1), epsilon(1). F(0) has three main subunits: a(1), b(2) and c(10). The alpha and beta chains form an alternating ring which encloses part of the gamma chain. F(1) is attached to F(0) by a central stalk formed by the gamma and epsilon chains, while a peripheral stalk is formed by the delta and b chains. {ECO:0000269|PubMed:11320246}.

To update the RBA model, re-run the model generation by

python generate_rba_model.py path/to/params.in

Now look at the file enzymes.xml that contains the composition of enzymatic complexes. The stoichiometry of the ATP synthase complex (identifier "R_ATPS4rpp_enzyme") is updated:

<enzyme id="R_ATPS4rpp_enzyme" reaction="R_ATPS4rpp" forward_efficiency="R_ATPS4rpp_efficiency" backward_efficiency="default_transporter_efficiency" zeroCost="false">
          <speciesReference species="b3734" stoichiometry="3.0"/>
          <speciesReference species="b3732" stoichiometry="3.0"/>
          <speciesReference species="b3731" stoichiometry="1.0"/>
          <speciesReference species="b3733" stoichiometry="1.0"/>
          <speciesReference species="b3735" stoichiometry="1.0"/>
          <speciesReference species="b3737" stoichiometry="10.0"/>
          <speciesReference species="b3736" stoichiometry="2.0"/>
          <speciesReference species="b3738" stoichiometry="1.0"/>
          <speciesReference species="b3739" stoichiometry="0.1"/>
    </enzyme> Unknown_proteins.tsv

The file unknown_proteins.tsv contains the gene names for which the automatic matching between the SBML IDs and either the user-defined protein IDs in the fasta files, either the Uniprot gene name failed. By default, RBApy associates a default cytoplasmic protein of mean composition, named "average_protein_Cytoplasm". However, the user can choose to associate another average protein, or another gene name, as soon as the gene name ID is present in the Uniprot file.

The file unknown_proteins.tsv contains two columns:

To update the RBA model, re-run the model generation by

python generate_rba_model.py path/to/params.in

3. Calibrating an RBA model

An existing RBA model can be calibrated using the RBApy.estim package, which containts a number of scripts. prot_per_compartment.py is a script allowing one to estimate the percentage of protein allocated to each compartment of the organism. nonenz_per_compartment.py uses the functional annotations of proteins, such as COG, to estimate the portion of protein in each compartment which is non-enzymatic. Nonenzymatic proteins can be considered those that do not perform a function within the model (they are not assigned either to metabolic enzymes or to other molecular machines). kapp.py allows for the estimation of apparent catalytic rates of enzymes from fluxomics and proteomics experiments performed in sufficiently similar conditions.

3.1 Calibration configuration files

All the calibration scripts make use of configuration files, in a format that is expected from the Python's standard configuration parser. Examples of these files are available at the RBApy github repository. All the files that are passed to the calibration scripts need to be either in csv or in some type of Excel format. This is specified via the file_type value, which can take on csv or excel values. For example, in specifying the file with experiment details, in the case we are providing it in csv format, the configuration would look as follows:

file = /path/to/file
file_type = csv
delimiter = ;

If you would want to provide the data in excel format, the configuration would look something like this:

file = /path/to/file
file_type = excel
delimiter = ;
sheet_name = Sheet1
skiprows = 3
For the case of csv file, only character delimiters are allowed (such as :, ;, etc), tabulation and white space are not.

3.2 Estimating protein percentage per compartment

In order to estimate the protein percentage per compartment, the user needs to have at her disposal a proteomics experiments for cells at different growth rates, and proteins need to have subcellular location annotation. All this information is given to the script via the configuration file prot_per_compartment.cfg. The configuration script has five fields:

  1. [Experiment]: a csv/excel file which lists the IDs of experiments in one column, and associated growth rates in the other. The expriment IDs need to match ones in the proteomics files. The experiment IDs are expected to be in the first column, and you need to provide the name of the column containing growth rates in the configuration file, under the name growth_rate_column.
  2. [ProteinData]: a csv/excel file containing measured protein abundances. All experiments are expected to be in the same file (in case of csv) or on the same sheet (in the case of an excel file). If the location data is present in the same sheet, you can additionally provide the parameter location column. If not, you can separately fill out the configuration for the subcellular location information.
  3. [LocationData]: a csv/excel file containing protein IDs in the first column and subcellular locations in one of the other columns. User needs to provide the column name in location_column parameter.
  4. [CompartmentMap]: a csv/excel file you can use to map multiple compartments onto one. For example, in E. coli, there are comartments called "Outer membrane" and "Cell outer membrane", which can logically be mapped onto one single compartment. This file is for such a purpose. First column should contain the original compartments, and one other column needs to contain the new compartments. The name of this column needs to be supplied in the cm_column parameter.
  5. [Output]: the results of the fitting with be outputted to this file. It requires you to give path to a file, a file type and file type - specific parameters.
Running the script for the estimation of protein percentage per compartment will generate a file in which, for each compartment, there will be a slope and intercept listed. These are the results of fitting the data onto a linear function of the growth rate. If no slope is indicated, this means that the data could be described better by a constant. The fitting procedure ensures that the sum of protein fractions per compartment always sums to one and that in the range of provided growth rates no fraction is bellow zero. If we imagine a case in which the portion of the protein for compartment "Cytosol" is described as 0.7 - 0.1 μ, and the minimum and maximum growth rate available for experimental data were 0.2 and 2 [1/h], this information should be inputted into the parameters.xml file of RBA in the following way:

<function id="fraction_protein_Cytosol" type="linear" variable="growth_rate">
    <parameter id="Y_MIN" value="-inf"/>
    <parameter id="LINEAR_CONSTANT" value="0.7"/>
    <parameter id="Y_MAX" value="inf"/>
    <parameter id="LINEAR_COEF" value="-0.1"/>
    <parameter id="X_MIN" value="0.2"/>
    <parameter id="X_MAX" value="2"/>

3.3 Estimating portion of nonenzymatic protein per compartment

In RBA, the modelled proteins are involved in metabolic function or are part of a modelled cellular process (translation, chaperoning - this will depend on your particular model). However, not the entire protein pool will be reserved for such proteins - there are other, unmodelled, proteins which the cell also needs to produce (the so-called maintenance or housekeeping proteins). The script nonenz_per_compartment.py and the accompanying configuration file nonenz_per_compartment.cfg enable the estimation of the portion of these proteins for all cellular compartments. Most of the configuration is identical as for the fraction of protein per compartment (see section 3.2). Two additional files that need to be provided are:

  1. [CategoryData]: Proteins with assigned functional categories. First column is expected to contain protein IDs, and one of the other columns the functional categories. The name of this column needs to be provided in the cat_column parameter.
  2. [IsEnzymaticData]: a file describing which functional category is considered enzymatic (opposite of housekeeping). First column should contain a full list of functional categories, and one other column should contain TRUE or FALSE values. The name of that column should be provided in the is_enzymatic_column parameter.

3.4 Estimating the apparent catalytic rates of enzymes

In order to estimate the apparent catalytic rates of enzymes, you need to provide fluxomics and proteomics data. Proteins need to have same identifiers as the ones used in the model. The configuration script has four fields:

  1. [ProteinData] where you need to provide the path to the file containing the proteomics data, as well as the cell dry weight for the cell at that growth conditions. This is assuming that the proteomics data is given in copies per cell. If the data is already provided as a concentration, you can set the cell dry weight (cdw) parameter to 1.
  2. [Flux data]
  3. where you need to provide the path to the fluxomics data. The first column is expected to contain one or more reaction IDs (from the model) separated by a comma. There are two additional columns you need to provide: upper bound and lower bound on the reactions, and the name of these columns needs to be supplied in the configuration file under ub_column and lb_column.
  4. [Model]
  5. in which you need to provide paths to the original metabolic model in SBML format used for creation of the RBA model, as well as the path to the directory containing the XML files specifying the RBA model. You also need to provide a name of the biomass reaction you wish to use as the objective function in an FBA simulation (which is used for the calibration procedure).
  6. [Output]
  7. where you specify the file in which the results of the estimation will be stored.

4. Details on the SBML requirements

Normally, RBApy should be compatible with any SBML models (SBML level 2 and 3) that have been generated using the protocol of Thiele & Palsson. "A protocol for generating a high-quality genome-scale metabolic reconstruction." Nature protocols 5.1 (2010): 93.". However, in practice, ambiguous information may be present, which can disturb or slow down the process of RBA model building.

4.1 Gene-association requirements

In RBA, one reaction is always catalyzed by an unique enzymatic complex. Therefore, isoenzymes, i.e. reactions that are catalyzed by several distinct enzymatic complexes, are duplicated. For instance, if one reaction R is catalyzed by two different enzymes, E1 and E2, then we introduce two reactions R1 and R2, catalyzed respectively by E1 and E2. The two enzymes have their own apparent catalytic rates kapp1 and kapp2.

During the parsing of the SBML file, RBApy parses the boolean rule of gene(s) associated to the reaction and duplicates the reaction automatically if necessary. RBApy can parse gene-association reactions that are annotated either in the field “note”, either using the fbc plugin with SBML level 3. However, sometimes, the boolean rule can be very complex, and thus difficult to parse. Therefore, RBApy assumes that the boolean relation is always “or”s of “and”s. Moreover, the words “or” and “and” must be written in lowercase letters.

Empty fields in Gene-association will be interpreted as a Ediffusion reaction, meaning that no enzyme will be associated to the reaction. In contrast, any other character string will automatically be considered as a gene name. RBApy will try to match the gene name with a Uniprot entry. If the matching fails, then a default protein of average composition is created. The unknown gene name will be inserted in the file unknown_protein.tsv for manual curation (see section Therefore, a reaction without a gene association may be catalyzed by an enzyme, then the user should insert any character strings such as “-” or “unknown”.

4.2 External compartments

RBApy determines external metabolites from the SBML file using the following rules:

Additionally, if all metabolites from a compartment participate only in reactions where they are the unique metabolic species involved (M -> or -> M), the compartment is considered external: all the metabolites it contains are tagged as external. For greater reliability, we advise to set either EXTERNAL_COMPARTMENTS in params.in or boundary conditions in the SBML.

In the RBA model, medium.tsv contains the concentrations of all external metabolites. These concentrations are used to define input fluxes through transporter enzymes. By default, they modulate transporter catalytic rates through Michaelis-Menten functions: the higher the concentration, the higher the import efficiency.

5. Miscellaneous

5.1 Decision variable IDs within RBApy

In genome scale metabolic reconstructions, it is customary to give "R_" prefixes to reaction IDs, and "M_" prefixes to metabolites. Cobrapy toolbox removes these prefixes, and they are also absent, for example, from the Escher maps flux visualization tool. RBApy retains these prefixes. Because of that, in some result export functions, it is possible to remove this prefix to make the data compatible with visualization tools. Apart from flux variables, RBApy also estimates enzyme abundances. Assuming that the reaction ID is R_reaction, a corresponding enzyme ID will be R_reaction_enzyme. Apart from reactions and enzymes, RBApy estimates concentrations of cell process macromolecular machines, such as ribosomes, chaperones, etc. These processes are defined in the processes.xml file, and their IDs are usually preceeded by "P_" prefix.

5.2 Isoenzymes

As described in section 4.1, more than one protein complex can be assigned to an enzymatic function. In such cases, RBA will create as many reactions as there are protein complexes associated with it, and each flux and protein complex will be a variable in the optimization procedure. For example, if in the metabolism file we find a reaction with an ID Reac1 which is catalyzed by three different protein complexes, RBA will create three flux variables with IDs Reac1, Reac1_2 and Reac1_3 and three enzyme variables, each one associated to a specific protein complex, with IDs Reac1_enzyme, Reac1_2_enzyme and Reac1_3_enzyme.