Isotope Ratio-Based Profiling of Microbial Folates

Wenyun Lu, Yun Kyung Kwon, Joshua D. Rabinowitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

38 Scopus citations

Abstract

Folate metabolism, which is responsible for one-carbon transfer reactions in critical cellular processes including thymidine biosynthesis, is among the most important targets of antibiotic and anticancer drugs. Analysis of intracellular folates is complicated by three different types of folate modification: oxidation/reduction, methylation, and polyglutamylation. Here we present a method for quantifying the full diversity of intracellular folates by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). The method begins with folate extraction using -75 °C methanol:water, with ascorbic acid and ammonium acetate added to prevent folate interconversion. The extract is then separated using hydrophilic interaction chromatography with an amino column, ionized by positive mode electrospray, and analyzed on a triple quadrupole instrument using multiple reaction monitoring. The method has been used to profile the folate pools in Escherichia coli and Saccharomyces cerevisiae, with absolute levels of selected folates in E. coli measured by spiking extracts of cells fed uniformly 13C-glucose with purified, unlabeled folate standards. An isotope-ratio-based approach has been applied to study the effects of trimethoprim, a clinically important antibiotic that blocks bacterial dihydrofolate reductase. In addition to causing the expected increase in oxidized and decrease in reduced folates, trimethoprim triggered a dramatic and previously unrecognized shift towards shorter polyglutamate chain lengths. This finding highlights the potential for analysis of the full spectrum of cellular folates by MS/MS to unveil novel biological phenomena.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)898-909
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry
Volume18
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Structural Biology
  • Spectroscopy

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