Published on Wed Oct 30 2019

Native Electrospray-based Metabolomics Enables the Detection of Metal-binding Compounds

Aron, A. T., Petras, D., Schmid, R., Gauglitz, J. M., Buttel, I., Antelo, L., Zhi, H., Saak, C. C., Malarney, K. P., Thines, E., Dutton, R. J., Raffatellu, M., Dorrestein, P. C.

Metals are essential for the molecular machineries of life. Microbes have evolved a variety of small molecules to acquire, compete for, and utilize metals. Systematic methods for the discovery of metal-small molecule complexes from biological samples are limited.

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Abstract

Metals are essential for the molecular machineries of life, and microbes have evolved a variety of small molecules to acquire, compete for, and utilize metals. Systematic methods for the discovery of metal-small molecule complexes from biological samples are limited. Here we describe a two-step native electrospray ionization mass spectrometry method, in which double-barrel post-column metal-infusion and pH adjustment is combined with ion identity molecular networking, a rule-based informatics workflow. This method can be used to identify metal-binding compounds in complex samples based on defined mass (m/z) offsets of ion features with the same chromatographic profiles. As this native metal metabolomics approach can be easily implemented on any liquid chromatography-based mass spectrometry system, this method has the potential to become a key strategy for elucidating and understanding the role of metal-binding molecules in biology.