In Vitro Metabolic Labeling of Intestinal Microbiota for Quantitative Metaproteomics

Anal Chem. 2016 Jun 21;88(12):6120-5. doi: 10.1021/acs.analchem.6b01412. Epub 2016 Jun 3.


Intestinal microbiota is emerging as one of the key environmental factors influencing or causing the development of numerous human diseases. Metaproteomics can provide invaluable information on the functional activities of intestinal microbiota and on host-microbe interactions as well. However, the application of metaproteomics in human microbiota studies is still largely limited, in part due to the lack of accurate quantitative intestinal metaproteomic methods. Most current metaproteomic microbiota studies are based on label-free quantification, which may suffer from variability during the separate sample processing and mass spectrometry runs. In this study, we describe a quantitative metaproteomic strategy, using in vitro stable isotopically ((15)N) labeled microbiota as a spike-in reference, to study the intestinal metaproteomes. We showed that the human microbiota were efficiently labeled (>95% (15)N enrichment) within 3 days under in vitro conditions, and accurate light-to-heavy protein/peptide ratio measurements were obtained using a high-resolution mass spectrometer and the quantitative proteomic software tool Census. We subsequently employed our approach to study the in vitro modulating effects of fructo-oligosaccharide and five different monosaccharides on the microbiota. Our methodology improves the accuracy of quantitative intestinal metaproteomics, which would promote the application of proteomics for functional studies of intestinal microbiota.

Publication types

  • Letter
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Databases, Factual
  • Fucose / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism
  • Intestines / microbiology*
  • Isotope Labeling
  • Microbiota*
  • Nitrogen Isotopes / chemistry
  • Peptides / analysis
  • Peptides / chemistry
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • Proteins / analysis
  • Proteins / chemistry
  • Proteomics*
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry


  • Nitrogen Isotopes
  • Nitrogen-15
  • Peptides
  • Proteins
  • Fucose

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