Analysis of plant secondary metabolism using stable isotope-labelled precursors

Arroo R. R. J., Bhambra A. S., Hano C., RENDA G., Ruparelia K. C., Wang M. F.

PHYTOCHEMICAL ANALYSIS, vol.32, no.1, pp.62-68, 2021 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Review
  • Volume: 32 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.1002/pca.2955
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Analytical Abstracts, Aquatic Science & Fisheries Abstracts (ASFA), BIOSIS, CAB Abstracts, Chemical Abstracts Core, Chimica, EMBASE, Food Science & Technology Abstracts, MEDLINE, Veterinary Science Database
  • Page Numbers: pp.62-68
  • Karadeniz Technical University Affiliated: Yes


Introduction Analysis of biochemical pathways typically involves feeding a labelled precursor to an organism, and then monitoring the metabolic fate of the label. Initial studies used radioisotopes as a label and then monitored radioactivity in the metabolic products. As analytical equipment improved and became more widely available, preference shifted the use stable 'heavy' isotopes like deuterium (H-2)-, carbon-13 (C-13)- and nitrogen-15 (N-15)-atoms as labels. Incorporation of the labels could be monitored by mass spectrometry (MS), as part of a hyphenated tool kits, e.g. Liquid chromatography (LC)-MS, gas chromatography (GC)-MS, LC-MS/MS. MS offers great sensitivity but the exact location of an isotope label in a given metabolite cannot always be unambiguously established. Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) can also be used to pick up signals of stable isotopes, and can give information on the precise location of incorporated label in the metabolites. However, the detection limit for NMR is quite a bit higher than that for MS. Objectives A number of experiments involving feeding stable isotope-labelled precursors followed by NMR analysis of the metabolites is presented. The aim is to highlight the use of NMR analysis in identifying the precise fate of isotope labels after precursor feeding experiments. As more powerful NMR equipment becomes available, applications as described in this review may become more commonplace in pathway analysis. Conclusion and Prospects NMR is a widely accepted tool for chemical structure elucidation and is now increasingly used in metabolomic studies. In addition, NMR, combined with stable isotope feeding, should be considered as a tool for metabolic flux analyses.