Picomolar analysis of flavins in biological samples by dynamic pH junction-sweeping capillary electrophoresis with laser-induced fluorescence detection
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Sensitive capillary electrophoresis (CE) methods are required for emerging areas of biochemical research such as the metabolome. In this report, dynamic pH junction-sweeping CE with laser-induced fluorescence (LIF) detection is applied as a robust single method to analyze trace amounts of three flavin derivatives, riboflavin, flavin mononucleotide (FMN), and flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD), from several types of samples including bacterial cell extracts, recombinant protein, and biological fluids. Submicromolar amounts of flavin coenzymes were measured directly from formic acid cell extracts of Bacillus subtilis. Significant differences in flavin concentration were measured in cell extracts derived from either glucose or malate as the carbon source in the culture media. Quantitative assessment of FAD and FMN content from selected flavoenzymes was demonstrated after heat denaturation to release noncovalently bound coenzymes and deproteinization. This method was also applied to the analysis of free flavins in pooled human plasma and urine without the need for laborious off-line sample preconcentration. Picomolar detectability of flavins by CE-LIF detection was realized with on-line preconcentration (up to 15% capillary length used for injection) by dynamic pH junction-sweeping, resulting in a limit of detection (S/N = 3) of about 4.0 pM for FAD and FMN. This represents over a 60-fold improvement in concentration sensitivity compared to those of previous techniques using conventional injections. The method was validated in terms of reproducibility, sensitivity, linearity, and specificity. Flavin analysis by dynamic pH junction-sweeping CE-LIF offers a simple, yet sensitive way to analyze trace levels of flavin metabolites from complex biological samples.
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