Pool size measurements are important for the estimation of absolute intracellular fluxes in particular scenarios based on data from heavy carbon isotope experiments. Recently, steady-state fluxes estimates were obtained for central carbon metabolism in an intact illuminated rosette of Arabidopsis thaliana grown photoautotrophically (Szecowka et al., 2013; Heise et al., 2014). Fluxes were estimated therein by integrating mass-spectrometric data of the dynamics of the unlabeled metabolic fraction, data on metabolic pool sizes, partitioning of metabolic pools between cellular compartments and estimates of photosynthetically inactive pools, with a simplified model of plant central carbon metabolism. However, the fluxes were determined by treating the pool sizes as fixed parameters. Here we investigated whether and, if so, to what extent the treatment of pool sizes as parameters to be optimized in three scenarios may affect the flux estimates. The results are discussed in terms of benchmark values for canonical pathways and reactions, including starch and sucrose synthesis as well as the ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylation and oxygenation reactions. In addition, we discuss pathways emerging from a divergent branch point for which pool sizes are required for flux estimation, irrespective of the computational approach used for the simulation of the observable labelling pattern. Therefore, our findings indicate the necessity for development of techniques for accurate pool size measurements to improve the quality of flux estimates from nonstationary flux estimates in intact plant cells in the absence of alternative flux measurements
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