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J Vis Exp. 2009 Aug 21;(30). pii: 1513. doi: 10.3791/1513.

A quantitative assessment of the yeast lipidome using electrospray ionization mass spectrometry.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Concordia University.


Lipids are one of the major classes of biomolecules and play important roles membrane dynamics, energy storage, and signalling(1-4). The budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a genetically and biochemically manipulable unicellular eukaryote with annotated genome and very simple lipidome, is a valuable model for studying biological functions of various lipid species in multicellular eukaryotes(2,3,5). S. cerevisiae has 10 major classes of lipids with chain lengths mainly of 16 or 18 carbon atoms and either zero or one degree of unsaturation(6,7). Existing methods for lipid identification and quantification - such as high performance liquid chromatography, thin-layer chromatography, fluorescence microscopy, and gas chromatography followed by MS - are well established but have low sensitivity, insufficiently separate various molecular forms of lipids, require lipid derivitization prior to analysis, or can be quite time consuming. Here we present a detailed description of our experimental approach to solve these inherent limitations by using survey-scan ESI/MS for the identification and quantification of the entire complement of lipids in yeast cells. The described method does not require chromatographic separation of complex lipid mixtures recovered from yeast cells, thereby greatly accelerating the process of data acquisition. This method enables lipid identification and quantification at the concentrations as low as g/ml and has been successfully applied to assessing lipidomes of whole yeast cells and their purified organelles. Lipids extraction from whole yeast cells for using this method of lipid analysis takes two to three hours. It takes only five to ten minutes to run each sample of extracted and dried lipids on a Q-TOF mass spectrometer equipped with a nano-electrospray source.

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