Changes in lipid distribution in E. coli strains in response to norfloxacin

J Mass Spectrom. 2015 Jan;50(1):88-94. doi: 10.1002/jms.3500.


Bacterial resistance to antibiotics has become an increasing threat, requiring not only the development of new targets in drug discovery, but more importantly, a better understanding of cellular response. In the current study, three closely related Escherichia coli strains, a wild type (MG1655) and an isogenic pair derived from the wild type (DPB635 and DPB636) are studied following exposure to sub lethal concentrations of antibiotic (norfloxacin) over time. In particular, genotype similarities between the three strains were assessed based on the lipid regulation response (e.g. presence/absence and up/down regulation). Lipid identification was performed using direct surface probe analysis (matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization, MALDI), coupled to high-resolution mass spectrometry (Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry, FT-ICR MS) followed by statistical analysis of variability and reproducibility across batches using internal standards. Inspection of the lipid profile showed that for the MG1655, DPB635 and DPB636 E. coli strains, a similar distribution of the altered lipids was observed after exposure to norfloxacin antibiotic (e.g. fatty acids and glycerol phospholipids are up and down regulated, respectively). Additionally, variations in the lipid distribution resemble the extent to which each strain can combat the antibiotic exposure. That is, the topA66 topoisomerase I mutation of DPB636 translates into diminished response related to antibiotic sensitivity when compared to MG1655 and the DPB635 strains.

Keywords: E. coli; MALDI FT-ICR MS; cell response; lipid profile; profile analysis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Escherichia coli / chemistry
  • Escherichia coli / drug effects*
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Escherichia coli / metabolism
  • Lipids / analysis*
  • Lipids / chemistry
  • Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Norfloxacin / administration & dosage
  • Norfloxacin / pharmacology*
  • Phospholipids / analysis
  • Phospholipids / chemistry
  • Phospholipids / metabolism
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • SOS Response, Genetics / drug effects
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization / methods
  • Spectroscopy, Fourier Transform Infrared / instrumentation
  • Spectroscopy, Fourier Transform Infrared / methods


  • Lipids
  • Phospholipids
  • Norfloxacin