Decimal place slope, a fast and precise method for quantifying13C incorporation levels for detecting the metabolic activity of microbial species Academic Article Article uri icon


MeSH Major

  • Cell Transformation, Viral
  • Oncogenes
  • Receptors, Cell Surface


  • The metabolic incorporation of stable isotopes such as13C or15N into proteins has become a powerful tool for qualitative and quantitative proteome studies. We recently introduced a method that monitors heavy isotope incorporation into proteins and presented data revealing the metabolic activity of various species in a microbial consortium using this technique. To further develop our method using an liquid chromatography (LC)-mass spectrometry (MS)-based approach, we present here a novel approach for calculating the incorporation level of13C into peptides by using the information given in the decimal places of peptide masses obtained by modern high-resolution MS. In the present study, the applicability of this approach is demonstrated using Pseudomonas putida ML2 proteins uniformly labeled via the consumption of [13C6]benzene present in the medium at concentrations of 0, 10, 25, 50, and 100 atom %. The incorporation of13C was calculated on the basis of several labeled peptides derived from one band on an SDS-PAGE gel. The accuracy of the calculated incorporation level depended upon the number of peptide masses included in the analysis, and it was observed that at least 100 peptide masses were required to reduce the deviation below 4 atom %. This accuracy was comparable with calculations of incorporation based on the isotope envelope. Furthermore, this method can be extended to the calculation of the labeling efficiency for a wide range of biomolecules, including RNA and DNA. The technique will therefore allow a highly accurate determination of the carbon flux in microbial consortia with a direct approach based solely on LC-MS. © 2010 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.

publication date

  • June 2010



  • Academic Article


Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1074/mcp.M900407-MCP200

PubMed ID

  • 20064840

Additional Document Info

start page

  • 1221

end page

  • 1227


  • 9


  • 6