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Anal Chem. 2014 Oct 21;86(20):10044-51. doi: 10.1021/ac5014755. Epub 2014 Sep 10.

Development of a GC/Quadrupole-Orbitrap mass spectrometer, part II: new approaches for discovery metabolomics.

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Departments of Chemistry and ‡Biomolecular Chemistry, University of Wisconsin-Madison , Madison, Wisconsin 53706, United States.


Identification of unknown peaks in gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS)-based discovery metabolomics is challenging, and remains necessary to permit discovery of novel or unexpected metabolites that may elucidate disease processes and/or further our understanding of how genotypes relate to phenotypes. Here, we introduce two new technologies and an analytical workflow that can facilitate the identification of unknown peaks. First, we report on a GC/Quadrupole-Orbitrap mass spectrometer that provides high mass accuracy, high resolution, and high sensitivity analyte detection. Second, with an "intelligent" data-dependent algorithm, termed molecular-ion directed acquisition (MIDA), we maximize the information content generated from unsupervised tandem MS (MS/MS) and selected ion monitoring (SIM) by directing the MS to target the ions of greatest information content, that is, the most-intact ionic species. We combine these technologies with (13)C- and (15)N-metabolic labeling, multiple derivatization and ionization types, and heuristic filtering of candidate elemental compositions to achieve (1) MS/MS spectra of nearly all intact ion species for structural elucidation, (2) knowledge of carbon and nitrogen atom content for every ion in MS and MS/MS spectra, (3) relative quantification between alternatively labeled samples, and (4) unambiguous annotation of elemental composition.

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