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Mass Spectrom (Tokyo). 2015;4(1):A0036. doi: 10.5702/massspectrometry.A0036. Epub 2015 Mar 26.

Method for the Compound Annotation of Conjugates in Nontargeted Metabolomics Using Accurate Mass Spectrometry, Multistage Product Ion Spectra and Compound Database Searching.

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Department of Biotechnology, Graduate School of Engineering, Osaka University; Analytical and Measuring Instruments Division, Shimadzu Corporation.
Department of Biotechnology, Graduate School of Engineering, Osaka University.
Faculty of Life and Environmental Sciences, Prefectural University of Hiroshima.


Owing to biotransformation, xenobiotics are often found in conjugated form in biological samples such as urine and plasma. Liquid chromatography coupled with accurate mass spectrometry with multistage collision-induced dissociation provides spectral information concerning these metabolites in complex materials. Unfortunately, compound databases typically do not contain a sufficient number of records for such conjugates. We report here on the development of a novel protocol, referred to as ChemProphet, to annotate compounds, including conjugates, using compound databases such as PubChem and ChemSpider. The annotation of conjugates involves three steps: 1. Recognition of the type and number of conjugates in the sample; 2. Compound search and annotation of the deconjugated form; and 3. In silico evaluation of the candidate conjugate. ChemProphet assigns a spectrum to each candidate by automatically exploring the substructures corresponding to the observed product ion spectrum. When finished, it annotates the candidates assigning a rank for each candidate based on the calculated score that ranks its relative likelihood. We assessed our protocol by annotating a benchmark dataset by including the product ion spectra for 102 compounds, annotating the commercially available standard for quercetin 3-glucuronide, and by conducting a model experiment using urine from mice that had been administered a green tea extract. The results show that by using the ChemProphet approach, it is possible to annotate not only the deconjugated molecules but also the conjugated molecules using an automatic interpretation method based on deconjugation that involves multistage collision-induced dissociation and in silico calculated conjugation.


LC-MS; biotransformation; compound library; metabolomics; non-target analysis

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