A dynamic kinetic model captures cell-free metabolism for improved butanol production

Jacob P. Martin, Blake J. Rasor, Jonathon DeBonis, Ashty S. Karim, Michael C. Jewett, Keith E.J. Tyo, Linda J. Broadbelt*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cell-free systems are useful tools for prototyping metabolic pathways and optimizing the production of various bioproducts. Mechanistically-based kinetic models are uniquely suited to analyze dynamic experimental data collected from cell-free systems and provide vital qualitative insight. However, to date, dynamic kinetic models have not been applied with rigorous biological constraints or trained on adequate experimental data to the degree that they would give high confidence in predictions and broadly demonstrate the potential for widespread use of such kinetic models. In this work, we construct a large-scale dynamic model of cell-free metabolism with the goal of understanding and optimizing butanol production in a cell-free system. Using a combination of parameterization methods, the resultant model captures experimental metabolite measurements across two experimental conditions for nine metabolites at timepoints between 0 and 24 h. We present analysis of the model predictions, provide recommendations for butanol optimization, and identify the aldehyde/alcohol dehydrogenase as the primary bottleneck in butanol production. Sensitivity analysis further reveals the extent to which various parameters are constrained, and our approach for probing valid parameter ranges can be applied to other modeling efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)133-145
Number of pages13
JournalMetabolic Engineering
StatePublished - Mar 2023


  • Butanol production
  • Cell-free systems
  • Computational biology
  • Dynamic models
  • Ensemble modeling
  • Kinetic modeling
  • Metabolic control analysis
  • Metabolic modeling
  • ODE Models
  • Parameter estimation
  • Parameter optimization
  • Systems biology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Biotechnology


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