The lipidic envelope of Mycobacterium tuberculosis promotes virulence in many ways, so we developed a lipidomics platform for a broad survey of cell walls. Here we report two new databases (MycoMass, MycoMap), 30 lipid fine maps, and mass spectrometry datasets that comprise a static lipidome. Further, by rapidly regenerating lipidomic datasets during biological processes, comparative lipidomics provides statistically valid, organism-wide comparisons that broadly assess lipid changes during infection or among clinical strains of mycobacteria. Using stringent data filters, we tracked more than 5,000 molecular features in parallel with few or no false-positive molecular discoveries. The low error rates allowed chemotaxonomic analyses of mycobacteria, which describe the extent of chemical change in each strain and identified particular strain-specific molecules for use as biomarkers.
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