Perspective: A stirring role for metabolism in cells

José Losa, Simeon Leupold, Diego Alonso-Martinez, Petteri Vainikka, Sebastian Thallmair, Katarzyna M Tych, Siewert J Marrink, Matthias Heinemann*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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Based on recent findings indicating that metabolism might be governed by a limit on the rate at which cells can dissipate Gibbs energy, in this Perspective, we propose a new mechanism of how metabolic activity could globally regulate biomolecular processes in a cell. Specifically, we postulate that Gibbs energy released in metabolic reactions is used to perform work, allowing enzymes to self-propel or to break free from supramolecular structures. This catalysis-induced enzyme movement will result in increased intracellular motion, which in turn can compromise biomolecular functions. Once the increased intracellular motion has a detrimental effect on regulatory mechanisms, this will establish a feedback mechanism on metabolic activity, and result in the observed thermodynamic limit. While this proposed explanation for the identified upper rate limit on cellular Gibbs energy dissipation rate awaits experimental validation, it offers an intriguing perspective of how metabolic activity can globally affect biomolecular functions and will hopefully spark new research.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere10822
Number of pages14
JournalMolecular Systems Biology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr-2022

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