Metabolomics: the Superglue of Omics

As the profile of metabolomics soars, we offer our thoughts on the future of the field.

By Martin Giera, Mary E. Spilker and Gary Siuzdak

March 2018

Our understanding of cellular and molecular processes has increased exponentially during the last century. Several key questions about the function of our cells and, to a broader extent, their interactions with entire organisms have been answered, with the most prominent findings being the elucidation of our DNA structure and the sequencing of the human genome (1). The key outcome of 20th century biomedical and biological research was the knowledge we gained about the coding, content and flow of information within our cells and body. The concept that our cells contain our hereditary information in the form of DNA, which is transcribed into RNA and translated into proteins that are ultimately involved in the modulation of our metabolome is the central dogma of biology, and a comprehensive understanding of this process represents the fundamental goal of omics technologies (2).

  1. International Human Genome Sequencing Consortium, “Initial sequencing and analysis of the human genome”, Nature, 409, 860 (2001).
  2. F Crick, “Central dogma of molecular biology”, Nature, 227, 561 (1970).
  3. PE Geyer et al., “Revisiting biomarker discovery by plasma proteomics”, Mol Syst Biol, 13, 942–957 (2017).
  4. M Jacob et al., “Metabolomics toward personalized medicine”, Mass Spec Rev, 2017, 1–18 (2017).
  5. I Kohler et al., “Analytical pitfalls and challenges in clinical metabolomics”, Bioanalysis, 8, 1509–1532 (2016).
  6. T Huan et al., “Systems biology guided by XCMS Online metabolomics, Nature Methods, 14, 461 (2017).
  7. C Guijas et al., “Metabolites that modulate phenotype can be identified by metabolomics activity screening”, Nat Biotechnol (2018) (Accepted manuscript).
  8. M Giera, F Branco dos Santos, G Siuzdak, “Metabolite-induced protein expression guided by metabolomics and systems biology”, Cell Metab (2018) (Accepted manuscript).
  9. AS Husted et al., “GPCR-mediated signaling of metabolites”, Cell Metab, 25, 777–796 (2017).
  10. DA Los, N Murata, “Regulation of enzymatic activity and gene expression by membrane fluidity”, Science’s STKE, 2000, pe1 (2000).
  11. F Branco dos Santos et al., “Probing the genome-scale metabolic landscape of Bordetella pertussis, the causative agent of whooping cough”, Appl Environ Microbiol, 83, e01528-17 (2017).
  12. DB Kell, “Metabolomics and systems biology: making sense of the soup”, Curr Opin Microbiol, 7, 296–307 (2004).
  13. JH O’Keefe, Jr, WS Harris, “From Inuit to implementation: omega-3 fatty acids come of age”, Mayo Clinic Proc, 75 607–614 (2000).
  14. CN Serhan, “Pro-resolving lipid mediators are leads for resolution physiology”, Nature, 510, 92 (2014).
  15. BA Beyer et al., “Metabolomics-based discovery of a metabolite that enhances oligodendrocyte maturation”, Nat Chem Biol, 14, 22–28 (2018).