LC-MS-based absolute metabolite quantification: Application to metabolic flux measurement in trypanosomes

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Human African trypanosomiasis is a neglected tropical disease caused by the protozoan parasite, Trypanosoma brucei. In the mammalian bloodstream, the trypanosome’s metabolism differs significantly from that of its host. For example, the parasite relies exclusively on glycolysis for energy source. Recently, computational and mathematical models of trypanosome metabolism have been generated to assist in understanding the parasite metabolism with the aim of facilitating drug development. Optimisation of these models requires quantitative information, including metabolite concentrations and/or metabolic fluxes that have been hitherto unavailable on a large scale. Here, we have implemented an LC–MS-based method that allows large scale quantification of metabolite levels by using U-13C-labelled E. coli extracts as internal standards. Known amounts of labelled E. coli extract were added into the parasite samples, as well as calibration standards, and used to obtain calibration curves enabling us to convert intensities into concentrations. This method allowed us to reliably quantify the changes of 43 intracellular metabolites and 32 extracellular metabolites in the medium over time. Based on the absolute quantification, we were able to compute consumption and production fluxes. These quantitative data can now be used to optimise computational models of parasite metabolism.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
StatePublished - 2015