Metabolomics Expertise Center
Managing PI: Bart Ghesquière
The Metabolomics core facility is headed by Bart Ghesquière, expert in 13C/15N-metabolic flux analysis and co-supervised by Sarah-Maria Fendt as scientific metabolomics expert.
Metabolomics is the field that studies metabolism, which describes the whole of enzymatic reactions occurring inside and outside the cellular environment. Understanding how this 'engine' of reactions works and more importantly, understanding the metabolic alterations occurring during specific conditions and diseases, provides a powerful tool for the development of novel drug strategies. Studying metabolism gives researchers an idea about the signatures of biochemical activities in their model system.
For the analysis of metabolism, the MEC (Metabolomics Expertise Center) uses both gas and liquid chromatography based mass spectrometers, allowing great versatility for the study of diverse classes of metabolites. Analyses range from studying global metabolite levels (measuring up to 150-300 metabolites involved in diverse pathways) to highly specific targeted methods such as Multiple/Single Reaction Monitoring assays (MRM/SRM)). Furthermore, we are using and optimizing a diverse range of chromatographic set-ups (Hydrophilic Interaction Chromatography (HILIC), Ion-Pairing, Reversed Phase (C18, C4), silica hydride, etc) to tackle the analysis of metabolites.
MEC holds emphatic expertise in stable isotope resolved metabolomics (SIRM), which is based on the principle that when isotopically labeled metabolites (for instance 13C-glucose or 13C-glutamine) are administered to cell cultures or to organisms, the subsequent isotope labeling pattern of downstream metabolites will depend on the amount of activation (flux) of metabolic reactions and pathways. Using such isotope incorporation studies, one can qualify or quantify these fluxes and pinpoint the crucial reactions in the entire metabolic network using a number of techniques (Niedenf¸hr et al. 2015, Buescher et al. 2015). Investigations at our expertise center have grown into the development of several novel software and hardware methodologies allowing further advances in the analysis of SIRM data. Our ultimate goal is to obtain a thorough metabolic understanding of relevant biological systems by applying these tools combined with our unique knowhow.