Mathematical modelling of dynamics and control in metabolic networks. I. On michaelis-menten kinetics

Bernhard Örn Pálsson*, Edwin N. Lightfoot

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Citations (Scopus)


As a starting point for modeling of metabolic networks this paper considers the simple Michaelis-Menten reaction mechanism. After the elimination of diffusional effects a mathematically intractable mass action kinetic model is obtained. The properties of this model are explored via scaling and linearization. The scaling is carried out such that kinetic properties, concentration parameters and external influences are clearly separated. We then try to obtain reasonable estimates for values of the dimensionless groups and examine the dynamic properties of the model over this part of the parameter space. Linear analysis is found to give excellent insight into reaction dynamics and it also gives a forum for understanding and justifying the two commonly used quasi-stationary and quasi-equilibrium analyses. The first finding is that there are two separate time scales inherent in the model existing over most of the parameter space, and in particular over the regions of importance here. Full modal analysis gives a new interpretation of quasi-stationary analysis, and its extension via singular perturbation theory, and a rationalization of the quasi-equilibrium approximation. The new interpretation of the quasi-steady state assumption is that the applicability is intimately related to dynamic interactions between the concentration variables rather than the traditional notion that a quasi-stationary state is reached, after a short transient period, where the rates of formation and decomposition of the enzyme intermediate are approximately equal. The modal analysis reveals that the generally used criterion for the applicability of quasistationary analysis that total enzyme concentration must be much less than total substrate concentration et ≪ st, is incomplete and and that the criterion et ≪ Km ≪ st (Km is the well known Michaelis constant) is the appropriate one. The first inequality (et ≪ Km) guarantees agreement over the longer time scale leading to quasi-stationary behavior or the applicability of the zeroth order outer singular perturbation solution but the second half of the criterion (Km ≪ st) justifies zeroth order inner singular perturbation solution where the substrate concentration is assumed to be invariant. Furthermore linear analysis shows that when a fast mode representing the binding of substrate to the enzyme is fast it can be relaxed leading to the quasi-equilibrium assumption. The influence of the dimensionless groups is ascertained by integrating the equations numerically, and the predictions made by the linear analysis are found to be accurate. Hence the dynamic properties and suitable approximations for a particular enzyme system may be predicted by simply examining the numerical values of the dimensionless groups. Finally it is found that under many in vivo conditions the linearized model can be successfully used to describe the dynamics of the reaction, and it frequently represents the exact behavior better than the widely used quasi-steady-state solution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-302
Number of pages30
JournalJournal of Theoretical Biology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 21 Nov 1984

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 1984 Published by Elsevier Ltd.


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