Suzanne Paley, Richard Billington, James Herson, Markus Krummenacker, Peter D. Karp; “Pathway Tools Visualization of Organism-Scale Metabolic Networks”; Metabolites 2021 11(2):64. doi: 10.3390/metabo11020064. PMID: 33499002
Metabolomics, synthetic biology, and microbiome research demand information about organism-scale metabolic networks. The convergence of genome sequencing and computational inference of metabolic networks has enabled great progress toward satisfying that demand by generating metabolic reconstructions from the genomes of thousands of sequenced organisms. Visualization of whole metabolic networks is critical for aiding researchers in understanding, analyzing, and exploiting those reconstructions. We have developed bioinformatics software tools that automatically generate a full metabolic-network diagram for an organism, and that enable searching and analyses of the network. The software generates metabolic-network diagrams for unicellular organisms, for multi-cellular organisms, and for pan-genomes and organism communities. Search tools enable users to find genes, metabolites, enzymes, reactions, and pathways within a diagram. The diagrams are zoomable to enable researchers to study local neighborhoods in detail and to see the big picture. The diagrams also serve as tools for comparison of metabolic networks and for interpreting high-throughput datasets, including transcriptomics, metabolomics, and reaction fluxes computed by metabolic models. These data can be overlaid on the metabolic charts to produce animated zoomable displays of metabolic flux and metabolite abundance. The BioCyc.org website contains whole-network diagrams for more than 18,000 sequenced organisms. The ready availability of organism-specific metabolic network diagrams and associated tools for almost any sequenced organism are useful for researchers working to better understand the metabolism of their organism and to interpret high-throughput datasets in a metabolic context.