Separation and identification of organic acid-coenzyme A thioesters using liquid chromatography/electrospray ionization-mass spectrometry

Joseph J. Dalluge, Steven Gort, Russell Hobson, Olga Selifonova, Frank Amore, Ravi Gokarn

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35 Scopus citations


A method has been developed for the direct determination of coenzyme A (CoA) and organic acid-CoA thioesters in mixtures using directly combined liquid chromatography/electrospray ionization-mass spectrometry (LC/ESI-MS). Mixtures of CoA and organic acid-CoA thioesters were analyzed by LC/ESI-MS with detection of protonated molecular ions and characteristic fragment ions for each compound. The identities of the CoA-thioesters were established based on LC retention times and simultaneously recorded mass spectra. Monitoring of the CoA specific fragment ion at m/z 428 throughout the chromatogram provides a unique fingerprint for CoA content in the samples that corroborates the identification of organic acid-CoA thioesters in the mixtures. Furthermore, fragment ions arising from the ester linkage portion of the molecule allow unambiguous identification of the CoA esters in the samples. A second LC elution system was developed that allows the simultaneous separation and identification of 2-hydroxypropionyl-CoA (lactyl-CoA) and 3-hydroxypropionyl CoA (3HP-CoA), which have the same mass and identical MS fragmentation behavior. The utility of LC/ESI-MS employing this elution system is demonstrated by the determination of 3HP-CoA and lactyl-CoA (converted to CoA-thioesters from their corresponding free acids using CoA-transferase) in fermentation broths from Escherichia coli strains engineered for the production of 3-hydroxypropionic acid (3HP). External calibration employing a purified 3HP-CoA standard allowed indirect quantification of 3HP content in the broth with a precision of 1% (RSD). The feasibility of extending the method described above to perform LC/selected reaction monitoring-tandem mass spectrometry for direct determination of organic acid-CoA thioesters in cells was also demonstrated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)835-840
Number of pages6
JournalAnalytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jan 1 2002


  • Liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry
  • Liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry
  • Metabolic engineering
  • Metabolite
  • Metabolomics


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