Stable isotope phosphate labelling of diverse metabolites is enabled by a family of 18O-phosphoramidites

13 September 2021, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


Stable isotope labelling is state-of-the-art in quantitative mass spectrometry, yet often accessing the required standards is cumbersome and very expensive. As 18O can be derived from heavy water (H218O), it is comparably cheap and particularly suited for labelling of phosphorylated compounds, provided the introduction is straight-forward and phosphate neutral loss in the ion source can be avoided. Here, a unifying synthetic concept for 18O-labelled phosphates is presented, based on a family of modified 18O2‑phosphoramidite reagents. This flexible toolbox offers access to major classes of biologically highly relevant phosphorylated metabolites as their isotopologues including - but not limited to - nucleotides, inositol phosphates, -pyrophosphates, and inorganic polyphosphates. 18O-enrichment ratios >95% and good yields are obtained consistently in gram-scale reactions, while enabling late-stage labelling. We demonstrate the utility of the 18O labelled inositol phosphates and pyrophosphates by assignment of these metabolites from different biological matrices, such as mammalian cell lysates, slime mold and plant samples. We demonstrate that phosphate neutral loss is negligible in an analytical setup employing capillary electrophoresis electrospray ionization triple quadrupole mass spectrometry.


Stable Isotope Labelling
Mass Spectrometry
Capillary Electrophoresis

Supplementary materials

Supplementary Information
General information: Chemical Synthesis, Mass Spectrometry data, NMR spectra


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