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Comparing Stable Isotope Enrichment by Gas Chromatography with Time-of-Flight, Quadrupole Time-of-Flight, and Quadrupole Mass Spectrometry

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posted on 12.01.2021, 17:10 authored by Ying Zhang, Bei Gao, Luis Valdiviez, Chao Zhu, Tara Gallagher, Katrine Whiteson, Oliver Fiehn
Stable isotope tracers are applied for in vivo and in vitro studies to reveal the activity of enzymes and intracellular metabolic pathways. Most often, such tracers are used with gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry (GC–MS) owing to its ease of operation and reproducible mass spectral databases. Differences in isotope tracer performance of the classic GC–quadrupole MS instrument and newer time-of-flight instruments are not well studied. Here, we used three commercially available instruments for the analysis of identical samples from a stable isotope labeling study that used [U-13C6] d-glucose to investigate the metabolism of the bacterium Rothia mucilaginosa with respect to 29 amino acids and hydroxyl acids involved in primary metabolism. The prokaryote R. mucilaginosa belongs to the family of Micrococcaceae and is present and metabolically active in the airways and sputum of cystic fibrosis patients. Overall, all three GC–MS instruments (low-resolution GC-SQ MS, low-resolution GC-TOF MS, and high-resolution GC-QTOF MS) can be used to perform stable isotope tracing studies for glycolytic intermediates, tricarboxylic acid (TCA) metabolites, and amino acids, yielding similar biological results, with high-resolution GC-QTOF MS offering additional capabilities to identify the chemical structures of unknown compounds that might show significant isotope enrichments in biological studies.

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