Inclusion of maintenance energy improves the intracellular flux predictions of CHO

Diana Széliová, Jerneja Štor, Isabella Thiel, Marcus Weinguny, Michael Hanscho, Gabriele Lhota, Nicole Borth, Jürgen Zanghellini, David E. Ruckerbauer, Isabel Rocha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells are the leading platform for the production of biopharmaceuticals with human-like glycosylation. The standard practice for cell line generation relies on trial and error approaches such as adaptive evolution and high-throughput screening, which typically take several months. Metabolic modeling could aid in designing better producer cell lines and thus shorten development times. The genome-scale metabolic model (GSMM) of CHO can accurately predict growth rates. However, in order to predict rational engineering strategies it also needs to accurately predict intracellular fluxes. In this work we evaluated the agreement between the fluxes predicted by parsimonious flux balance analysis (pFBA) using the CHO GSMM and a wide range of 13C metabolic flux data from literature. While glycolytic fluxes were predicted relatively well, the fluxes of tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle were vastly underestimated due to too low energy demand. Inclusion of computationally estimated maintenance energy significantly improved the overall accuracy of intracellular flux predictions. Maintenance energy was therefore determined experimentally by running continuous cultures at different growth rates and evaluating their respective energy consumption. The experimentally and computationally determined maintenance energy were in good agreement. Additionally, we compared alternative objective functions (minimization of uptake rates of seven nonessential metabolites) to the biomass objective. While the predictions of the uptake rates were quite inaccurate for most objectives, the predictions of the intracellular fluxes were comparable to the biomass objective function.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1009022
JournalPLoS Computational Biology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


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