Metabolites2014, 4(2), 184-217; doi:10.3390/metabo4020184 - published online 11 April 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The generation of efficient production strains is essential for the use of eukaryotic microalgae for biofuel production. Systems biology approaches including metabolite profiling on promising microalgal strains, will provide a better understanding of their metabolic networks, which is crucial for metabolic engineering efforts. Chlamydomonas reinhardtii represents a suited model system for this purpose. We give an overview to genetically amenable microalgal strains with the potential for biofuel production and provide a critical review of currently used protocols for metabolite profiling on Chlamydomonas. We provide our own experimental data to underpin the validity of the conclusions drawn.
Metabolites2014, 4(2), 166-183; doi:10.3390/metabo4020166 - published online 10 April 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Mitochondria are a focal point in metabolism, given that they play fundamental roles in catabolic, as well as anabolic reactions. Alterations in mitochondrial functions are often studied in whole cells, and metabolomics experiments using 13C-labeled substrates, coupled with mass isotopomer distribution analyses, represent a powerful approach to study global changes in cellular metabolic activities. However, little is known regarding the assessment of metabolic activities in isolated mitochondria using this technology. Studies on isolated mitochondria permit the evaluation of whether changes in cellular metabolic activities are due to modifications in the intrinsic properties of the mitochondria. Here, we present a streamlined approach to accurately determine 13C, as well as 12C enrichments in isolated mitochondria from mammalian tissues or cultured cells by GC/MS. We demonstrate the relevance of this experimental approach by assessing the effects of drugs perturbing mitochondrial functions on the mass isotopomer enrichment of metabolic intermediates. Furthermore, we investigate 13C and 12C enrichments in mitochondria isolated from cancer cells given the emerging role of metabolic alterations in supporting tumor growth. This original method will provide a very sensitive tool to perform metabolomics studies on isolated mitochondria.
Metabolites2014, 4(2), 142-165; doi:10.3390/metabo4020142 - published online 31 March 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The applications of stable isotopes in metabolomics have facilitated the study of cell metabolisms. Stable isotope-assisted metabolomics requires: (1) properly designed tracer experiments; (2) stringent sampling and quenching protocols to minimize isotopic alternations; (3) efficient metabolite separations; (4) high resolution mass spectrometry to resolve overlapping peaks and background noises; and (5) data analysis methods and databases to decipher isotopic clusters over a broad m/z range (mass-to-charge ratio). This paper overviews mass spectrometry based techniques for precise determination of metabolites and their isotopologues. It also discusses applications of isotopic approaches to track substrate utilization, identify unknown metabolites and their chemical formulas, measure metabolite concentrations, determine putative metabolic pathways, and investigate microbial community populations and their carbon assimilation patterns. In addition, 13C-metabolite fingerprinting and metabolic models can be integrated to quantify carbon fluxes (enzyme reaction rates). The fluxome, in combination with other “omics” analyses, may give systems-level insights into regulatory mechanisms underlying gene functions. More importantly, 13C-tracer experiments significantly improve the potential of low-resolution gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) for broad-scope metabolism studies. We foresee the isotope-assisted metabolomics to be an indispensable tool in industrial biotechnology, environmental microbiology, and medical research.
Metabolites2014, 4(1), 131-141; doi:10.3390/metabo4010131 - published online 4 March 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: NMR is a robust analytical technique that has been employed to investigate the properties of many substances of agricultural relevance. NMR was first used to investigate the properties of milk in the 1950s and has since been employed in a wide range of studies; including properties analysis of specific milk proteins to metabolomics techniques used to monitor the health of dairy cows. In this brief review, we highlight the different uses of NMR in the dairy industry.
Metabolites2014, 4(1), 115-128; doi:10.3390/metabo4010115 - published online 19 February 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Two publications from the same research group reporting on the detection of new possible biomarkers for the early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), based on the analysis of cerebrospinal fluid samples (CSF) with 1H Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR), are at the origin of the present study. The authors observed significant differences in 1H NMR spectra of CSF from AD patients and healthy controls and, thus, proposed some NMR signals (without attribution) as possible biomarkers. However, this work was carried out in non-standardized pH conditions. Our study aims at warning about a possible misinterpretation that can arise from 1H NMR analyses of CSF samples if pH adjustment is not done before NMR analysis. Indeed, CSF pH increases rapidly after removal and is subject to changes over conservation time. We first identify the NMR signals described by the authors as biomarkers. We then focus on the chemical shift variations of their NMR signals as a function of pH in both standard solutions and CSF samples. Finally, a principal component analysis of 1H NMR data demonstrates that the same CSF samples recorded at pH 8.1 and 10.0 are statistically differentiated.