In Search of Complementary Extraction Methods for Comprehensive Coverage of the Escherichia coli Metabolome

Henry Gould*, William Cheung, James D. Finnigan, José Muñoz-Muñoz, Simon J. Charnock, Gary W. Black

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Escherichia coli is an invaluable research tool for many fields of biology, in particular for the production of recombinant enzymes. However, the activity of many such recombinant enzymes cannot be determined using standard biochemical assays, as often, the relevant substrates are not known, or the products produced are not detectable. Today, the biochemical footprints of such unknown enzyme activities can be revealed via the analysis of the metabolomes of the recombinant E. coli clones in which they are expressed, using sensitive technologies such as mass spectrometry. However, before any metabolites can be identified, it is necessary to achieve as high a coverage of the potential metabolites present within E. coli as possible. We have therefore analyzed a wide range of different extraction methods against the cell free extracts of various recombinant E. coli clones. The results were analyzed to determine the minimum number of extractions that achieved high recovery and coverage of metabolites. Two methods were selected for further analysis due to their ability to produce not only high numbers of ions, but also wide mass coverage and a high degree of complementarity. One extraction method uses acetonitrile and water, in a 4:1 ratio, which is then dried down and reconstituted in the chromatography running buffer prior to injection onto the chromatography column, and the other extraction method uses a combination of methanol, water and chloroform, in a 3:1:1 ratio, which is injected directly onto the chromatography column. These two extraction methods were shown to be complementary to each other, as regards the respective metabolites extracted, and to cover a large range of metabolites.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1010
Number of pages13
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 14 Sep 2023

Cite this