According to the most prevalent notion, changes in cellular physiology primarily occur in response to altered environmental conditions. Yet, recent studies have shown that changes in metabolic fluxes can also trigger phenotypic changes even when environmental conditions are unchanged. This suggests that cells have mechanisms in place to assess the magnitude of metabolic fluxes, that is, the rate of metabolic reactions, and use this information to regulate their physiology. In this review, we describe recent evidence for metabolic flux-sensing and flux-dependent regulation. Furthermore, we discuss how such sensing and regulation can be mechanistically achieved and present a set of new candidates for flux-signaling metabolites. Similar to metabolic-flux sensing, we argue that cells can also sense protein translation flux. Finally, we elaborate on the advantages that flux-based regulation can confer to cells.
- Journal Article