Increasing the expression of various glycolytic operons in caused a significant decrease rather than increase in the glycolytic flux and growth rate. Because the relative decrease depended on the amount of overexpressed protein, and was independent of which enzyme was overexpressed, we attributed it to a protein burden effect. More specifically, we examined if the decrease in glycolytic flux could be explained by a decreased concentration of other glycolytic enzymes (for which glucokinase was used as a marker enzyme). Using the summation theorem of metabolic control theory we predicted the extent of this protein burden effect. The predictions were in good agreement with the experimental observations. This suggests that the negative flux control is caused either by a simple competition of the overexpressed gene with the expression of all other genes or by simple dilution. Furthermore, we determined the implications of protein burden for the determination of the extent to which an enzyme limits a flux. We conclude that a protein burden can cause a significant underestimation of the flux control coefficient, especially if the enzyme under investigation is a highly expressed enzyme.


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