Increasing the throughput of systems biology-based experimental characterization of in silico-designed strains has great potential for accelerating the development of cell factories. For this, analysis of metabolism in the steady state is essential as only this enables the unequivocal definition of the physiological state of cells, which is needed for the complete description and in silico reconstruction of their phenotypes. In this review, we show that for a systems microbiology approach, high-resolution characterization of metabolism in the steady state – growth space analysis (GSA) – can be achieved by using advanced continuous cultivation methods termed changestats. In changestats, an environmental parameter is continuously changed at a constant rate within one experiment whilst maintaining cells in the physiological steady state similar to chemostats. This increases the resolution and throughput of GSA compared with chemostats, and, moreover, enables following of the dynamics of metabolism and detection of metabolic switch-points and optimal growth conditions. We also describe the concept, challenge and necessary criteria of the systematic analysis of steady-state metabolism. Finally, we propose that such systematic characterization of the steady-state growth space of cells using changestats has value not only for fundamental studies of metabolism, but also for systems biology-based metabolic engineering of cell factories.
Reversible phosphorylation of bacterial transcriptional regulators (TRs) belonging to the family of two-component systems (TCSs) is a well-established mechanism for regulating gene expression. Recent evidence points to the fact that reversible phosphorylation of bacterial TRs on other types of residue, i.e. serine, threonine, tyrosine and cysteine, is also quite common. The phosphorylation of the ester type (phospho-serine/threonine/tyrosine) is more stable than the aspartate phosphorylation of TCSs. The kinases which catalyse these phosphorylation events (Hanks-type serine/threonine protein kinases and bacterial protein tyrosine kinases) are also much more promiscuous than the TCS kinases, i.e. each of them can phosphorylate several substrate proteins. As a consequence, the dynamics and topology of the signal transduction networks depending on these kinases differ significantly from the TCSs. Here, we present an overview of different classes of bacterial TR phosphorylated and regulated by serine/threonine and tyrosine kinases. Particular attention is given to examples when serine/threonine and tyrosine kinases interact with TCSs, phosphorylating either the histidine kinases or the response regulators. We argue that these promiscuous kinases connect several signal transduction pathways and serve the role of signal integration.