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Analysis of Drosophila Lipids by Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption/Ionization Mass Spectrometric Imaging

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journal contribution
posted on 18.11.2014 by Ann-Christin Niehoff, Hans Kettling, Alexander Pirkl, Yin Ning Chiang, Klaus Dreisewerd, Joanne Y. Yew
Drosophila melanogaster is a major model organism for numerous lipid-related diseases. While comprehensive lipidomic profiles have been generated for D. melanogaster, little information is available on the localization of individual lipid classes and species. Here, we show the use of matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometric imaging (MALDI-MSI) to profile lipids in D. melanogaster tissue sections. The preparation of intact cryosections from whole insects presents a challenge due to the brittle hydrophobic cuticle surrounding the body and heterogeneous tissue types beneath the cuticle. However, the introduction of a novel sucrose infiltration step and gelatin as an embedding media greatly improved the quality of tissue sections. We generated MS image profiles of six major lipid classes: phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylethanolamine, phosphatidylglycerol, phosphatidylinositol, phosphatidylserine, and triacylglycerides. In addition, signals corresponding to two male-specific sex pheromones were detected in the ejaculatory bulb, a specialized site of pheromone production. MSI performed with 35 μm lateral resolution provided high sensitivity detection of at least 92 different lipid species, based on exact mass. In contrast, MSI with 10 μm lateral resolution enabled the detection of 36 lipid species but allowed lipid profiling of individual organs. The ability to localize lipid classes in intact sections from whole Drosophila provides a powerful tool for characterizing the effects of diet, age, stress, and environment on lipid production and distribution.