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Anal Biochem. 1988 Nov 1;174(2):374-80.

Microbial synthesis of L-[15N]leucine L-[15N]isoleucine, and L-[3-13C]-and L-[3'-13C]isoleucines studied by nuclear magnetic resonance and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry.

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Department of Isotope Research, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel.


The preparation of leucine and isoleucine labeled with 15N and of site-specific 13C-labeled isoleucines is described. This method is based on the induction of the biosynthetic pathways specific for branched chain amino acids in glutamic acid producing bacteria, and controlled provision of stable isotope labeled precursors. Corynebacterium glutamicum (ATCC 13032), a glutamic acid overproducer, was incubated in leucine production medium which consisted of a basal medium supplemented with [15N]ammonium sulfate, glucose, and sodium alpha-ketoisocaproate. production of L-[15N]leucine reached 138 mumol/ml at an isotopic efficiency of 90%. It was purified and checked by proton NMR and GC-MS. The electron impact (EI) spectrum showed 95 atom% enrichment. The cultivation of C. glutamicum in a similar medium containing alpha-ketobutyrate yielded L-[15N]isoleucine at a concentration of 120 mumol/ml. The GC-MS EI and chemical ionization (CI) spectra confirmed enrichment of 96 atom% 15N as that of the labeled precursors. The biosynthesis of L-[13C]isoleucine was carried out by induced cells which were transferred to a similar medium in which [2-13C]- or [3-13C]pyruvic acid replaced glucose. 13C NMR of the product isoleucine revealed single-site enrichment at C-3 or at C-3' respective to the precursor [13C]pyruvate; i.e., C-3 was labeled from [2-13C]pyruvate and C-3' from [3-13C]pyruvate. Mass spectrometric analysis confirmed that all molecules were labeled only in one carbon. This site-specific incorporation of [13C]pyruvate is contrasted with the labeling pattern obtained when producing cells were supplied with [2-13C]acetate, instead of pyruvate, when most label was incorporated into carbons 3 and 3' of the same isoleucine molecule.

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