Matrix assisted laser desorption ionization (MALDI)-time of flight/mass spectrometry (TOF/MS) was applied to investigate alterations in phospholipids in mitophagic cancer cells. Several phospholipids, including phosphatidylcholines (PCs), sphingomyelins (SMs), and phosphatidylinositols (PIs), were successfully analyzed in control and mitophagy-induced H460 cells in the positive and negative ion modes. Principal component analysis was applied to differentiate the two groups. The upregulated and downregulated phospholipid species in the mitophagic cells were also represented in a heatmap. In the volcano plot (fold change > 1.3 and p value < 0.01), individual species of seven PCs, two SMs, and three PIs were selected as differentially regulated phospholipids. In particular, almost all the molecular species of PC, SM, and PI were downregulated in the mitophagic cells. Quantification of these lipids indicated that mitophagy induces altered metabolism of phospholipids. Therefore, phospholipid alterations during the mitophagic process of lung cancer cells were well characterized by MALDI-TOF/MS.
Keywords: MALDI; mass spectrometry; mitophagy; phospholipids.