Dual Labeling of Metabolites for Metabolome Analysis (DLEMMA): A New Approach for the Identification and Relative Quantification of Metabolites by Means of Dual Isotope Labeling and Liquid Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry

Anal Chem. 2009 Nov 15;81(22):9257-66. doi: 10.1021/ac901495a.


Advanced metabolomics technologies are anticipated to permit the identification and quantification of metabolites at the whole-metabolome scale. Yet, most of the metabolites either remain unknown or cannot be identified unambiguously. Moreover, the present approaches suffer from inaccuracies in relative quantification because of sample preparation and matrix effects. Here we present Dual Labeling of Metabolites for Metabolome Analysis (DLEMMA) as a valuable tool, which with analogy to DNA array assays enables the identification and relative quantification of differential metabolites in a single sample. DLEMMA was demonstrated as an efficient method for reducing the number of possible chemical structures assigned that exhibit the same elemental composition. Its strength was exemplified by the discovery of 10 novel Tryptophan derivatives. Furthermore, employing DLEMMA by feeding two Phenylalanine-labeled precursors, we could detect differential metabolites between transgenic and control plants. The accuracy of relative quantification is also enhanced since DLEMMA provides identical matrixes for both samples, thus avoiding the effects of different complex biological matrixes on electrospray ionization. Hence, DLEMMA will complement and contribute to the advancement of metabolomics technologies and boost metabolic pathway discovery in diverse organisms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / metabolism*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / analysis
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism*
  • Metabolome*
  • Metabolomics / methods*
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Electrospray Ionization / methods*


  • Arabidopsis Proteins