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J Am Soc Mass Spectrom. 2004 Apr;15(4):478-85.

Measure of carbon and nitrogen stable isotope ratios in cultured cells.

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Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02139, USA.


We report the measurement of the natural isotope ratios of nitrogen and carbon in subcellular volumes of individual cells among a population of cultured cells using a multi-isotope imaging mass spectrometer (MIMS), [MIMS is the prototype of the NanoSIMS 50, Cameca, France.] We also measured the nitrogen and carbon isotope ratio in cells after they had been cultured in media enriched with the amino acid glycine labeled with either 13C or 15N. The results demonstrate that 13C/12C and 15N/14N isotope ratios can be measured directly on a subcellular scale. This opens the way for the use of stable isotopes, in particular 15N, as labels to measure the intracellular turnover of biomolecules. Such a capability should help resolve a wide range of biomedical problems.

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