Top-down Metabolomic Approaches for Nitrogen-Containing Metabolites

Streamlining the processes that reveal heteroatom-containing metabolites and their biosynthetic genes is essential in integrated metabolomics studies. These metabolites are especially targeted for their potential pharmaceutical activities. By using a Fourier-transform ion cyclotron resonance–mass spectrometry (FTICR–MS) instrument, we provide top-down targeted metabolomic analyses using ultrahigh-resolution liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry (LC–MS), high-resolution matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI), and high-resolution imaging mass spectrometry (IMS) with <sup>15</sup>N labeling of nitrogen-containing metabolites. In this study, we efficiently extract known and unknown chemicals and spatial information from the medicinal plant Catharanthus roseus, which sources several cancer drugs. The ultrahigh-resolution LC–MS analysis showed that the molecular formula of 65 N-metabolites were identified using the petals, peduncles, leaves, petioles, stems, and roots of the non- and <sup>15</sup>N-labeled Catharanthus plants. The high resolution MALDI analysis showed the molecular formula of 64 N-metabolites using the petals, leaves, and stems of the non- and <sup>15</sup>N-labeled Catharanthus. The chemical assignments using molecular formulas stored in databases identified known and unknown metabolites. The comparative analyses using the assigned metabolites revealed that most of the organ-specific ions are derived from unknown N-metabolites. The high-resolution IMS analysis characterized the spatial accumulation patterns of 32 N-metabolites using the buds, leaves, stems, and roots in Catharanthus. The comparative analysis using the non- and <sup>15</sup>N-labeled IMS data showed the same spatial accumulation patterns of a non- and <sup>15</sup>N-labeled metabolite in the organs, showing that top-down analysis can be performed even in IMS analysis.