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Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology
Volume 2005, Issue 2, Pages 198-214
Research article

Metabolite Fingerprinting in Transgenic Nicotiana tabacum Altered by the Escherichia coli Glutamate Dehydrogenase Gene

1Department of Molecular and Medical Biochemistry, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL 62901, USA
2Department of Botany, University of British Columbia, Vancouver V6T 1Z4, Canada
3Department of Plant, Biology, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL 62901, USA
4Phenomenome Discoveries Inc., 941 University Drive, Saskatoon S7N 0K2, Canada
5Department of Plant, Soil and Agricultural Systems, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL 62901, USA
6Max-Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology, 14476 Golm, Potsdam, Germany

Received 14 April 2004; Revised 11 June 2004; Accepted 27 July 2004

Copyright © 2005 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


With about 200 000 phytochemicals in existence, identifying those of biomedical significance is a mammoth task. In the postgenomic era, relating metabolite fingerprints, abundances, and profiles to genotype is also a large task. Ion analysis using Fourier transformed ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry (FT-ICR-MS) may provide a high-throughput approach to measure genotype dependency of the inferred metabolome if reproducible techniques can be established. Ion profile inferred metabolite fingerprints are coproducts. We used FT-ICR-MS-derived ion analysis to examine gdhA (glutamate dehydrogenase (GDH; EC transgenic Nicotiana tabacum (tobacco) carrying out altered glutamate, amino acid, and carbon metabolisms, that fundamentally alter plant productivity. Cause and effect between gdhA expression, glutamate metabolism, and plant phenotypes was analyzed by 13NH4+ labeling of amino acid fractions, and by FT-ICR-MS analysis of metabolites. The gdhA transgenic plants increased 13N labeling of glutamate and glutamine significantly. FT-ICR-MS detected 2 012 ions reproducible in 2 to 4 ionization protocols. There were 283 ions in roots and 98 ions in leaves that appeared to significantly change abundance due to the measured GDH activity. About 58% percent of ions could not be used to infer a corresponding metabolite. From the 42% of ions that inferred known metabolites we found that certain amino acids, organic acids, and sugars increased and some fatty acids decreased. The transgene caused increased ammonium assimilation and detectable ion variation. Thirty-two compounds with biomedical significance were altered in abundance by GDH including 9 known carcinogens and 14 potential drugs. Therefore, the GDH transgene may lead to new uses for crops like tobacco.