Metabolic profiling is increasingly being used to investigate a diverse range of biological questions. Due to the rapid turnover of intracellular metabolites it is important to have reliable, reproducible techniques for sampling and sample treatment. Through the use of non-targeted analytical techniques such as NMR and GC-MS we have performed a comprehensive quantitative investigation of sampling techniques for Pichia pastoris. It was clear that quenching metabolism using solutions based on the standard cold methanol protocol caused some metabolite losses from P. pastoris cells. However, these were at a low level, with the NMR results indicating metabolite increases in the quenching solution below 5% of their intracellular level for 75% of metabolites identified; while the GC-MS results suggest a slightly higher level with increases below 15% of their intracellular values. There were subtle differences between the four quenching solutions investigated but broadly, they all gave similar results. Total culture extraction of cells + broth using high cell density cultures typical of P. pastoris fermentations, was an efficient sampling technique for NMR analysis and provided a gold standard of intracellular metabolite levels; however, salts in the media affected the GC-MS analysis. Furthermore, there was no benefit in including an additional washing step in the quenching process, as the results were essentially identical to those obtained just by a single centrifugation step. We have identified the major high-concentration metabolites found in both the extra- and intracellular locations of P. pastoris cultures by NMR spectroscopy and GC-MS. This has provided us with a baseline metabolome for P. pastoris for future studies. The P. pastoris metabolome is significantly different from that of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, with the most notable difference being the production of high concentrations of arabitol by P. pastoris.
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