Integrated metabonomic-proteomic analysis of an insect-bacterial symbiotic system

J Proteome Res. 2010 Mar 5;9(3):1257-67. doi: 10.1021/pr9007392.


The health of animals, including humans, is dependent on their resident microbiota, but the complexity of the microbial communities makes these associations difficult to study in most animals. Exceptionally, the microbiology of the pea aphid Acyrthosiphon pisum is dominated by a single bacterium Buchnera aphidicola (B. aphidicola). A (1)H NMR-based metabonomic strategy was applied to investigate metabolic profiles of aphids fed on a low essential amino acid diet and treated by antibiotic to eliminate B. aphidicola. In addition, differential gel electrophoresis (DIGE) with mass spectrometry was utilized to determine the alterations of proteins induced by these treatments. We found that these perturbations resulted in significant changes to the abundance of 15 metabolites and 238 proteins. Ten (67%) of the metabolites with altered abundance were amino acids, with nonessential amino acids increased and essential amino acids decreased by both perturbations. Over-represented proteins in the perturbed treatments included catabolic enzymes with roles in amino acid degradation and glycolysis, various cuticular proteins, and a C-type lectin and regucalcin with candidate defensive roles. This analysis demonstrates the central role of essential amino acid production in the relationship and identifies candidate proteins and processes underpinning the function and persistence of the association.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids, Essential / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Aphids / drug effects
  • Aphids / metabolism*
  • Aphids / microbiology*
  • Buchnera / metabolism*
  • Electrophoresis, Gel, Two-Dimensional
  • Insect Proteins / chemistry
  • Insect Proteins / metabolism*
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Metabolomics / methods
  • Proteomics / methods
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Rifampin / pharmacology
  • Symbiosis
  • Systems Biology / methods*


  • Amino Acids, Essential
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Insect Proteins
  • Rifampin