UVliPiD: A UVPD-Based Hierarchical Approach for De Novo Characterization of Lipid A Structures

Anal Chem. 2016 Feb 2;88(3):1812-20. doi: 10.1021/acs.analchem.5b04098. Epub 2016 Jan 15.


The lipid A domain of the endotoxic lipopolysaccharide layer of Gram-negative bacteria is comprised of a diglucosamine backbone to which a variable number of variable length fatty acyl chains are anchored. Traditional characterization of these tails and their linkages by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) or mass spectrometry is time-consuming and necessitates databases of pre-existing structures for structural assignment. Here, we introduce an automated de novo approach for characterization of lipid A structures that is completely database-independent. A hierarchical decision-tree MS(n) method is used in conjunction with a hybrid activation technique, UVPDCID, to acquire characteristic fragmentation patterns of lipid A variants from a number of Gram-negative bacteria. Structural assignments are derived from integration of key features from three to five spectra and automated interpretation is achieved in minutes without the need for pre-existing information or candidate structures. The utility of this strategy is demonstrated for a mixture of lipid A structures from an enzymatically modified E. coli lipid A variant. A total of 27 lipid A structures were discovered, many of which were isomeric, showcasing the need for a rapid de novo approach to lipid A characterization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Escherichia coli / chemistry
  • Lipid A / chemistry*
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Protein Conformation
  • Ultraviolet Rays*


  • Lipid A