Combination of Isotope Labeling and Molecular Networking of Tandem Mass Spectrometry Data To Reveal 69 Unknown Metabolites Produced by Penicillium nordicum

The secondary metabolome of Penicillium nordicum is poorly documented despite its frequent detection on contaminated food and its capacity to produce toxic metabolites such as ochratoxin A. To characterize metabolites produced by this fungi, we combined a full stable isotopes labeling with the dereplication of tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) data by molecular networking. First, the untargeted metabolomic analysis by high-resolution mass spectrometry of a double stable isotope labeling of P. nordicum enabled the specific detection of its metabolites and the unambiguous determination of their elemental composition. Analyses showed that infection of substrate by P. nordicum lead to the production of at least 92 metabolites and that 69 of them were completely unknown. Then, curated molecular networks of MS/MS data were generated with GNPS and MetGem, specifically on the features of interest, which allowed highlighting 13 fungisporin-related metabolites that had not previously been identified in this fungus and 8 that had never been observed in any fungus. The structures of the unknown compounds, namely, a native fungisporin and seven linear peptides, were characterized by tandem mass spectrometry experiments. The analysis of P. nordicum growing on its natural substrates, i.e. pork ham, turkey ham, and cheese, demonstrated that 10 of the known fungisporin-related metabolites and three of the new metabolites were also synthesized. Thus, the curation of data for molecular networking using a specific detection of metabolites of interest with stable isotopes labeling allowed the discovery of new metabolites produced by the food contaminant P. nordicum.