UCARE: Undergraduate Creative Activities & Research Experiences


Date of this Version

Spring 4-14-2020

Document Type



Evans, Paula; Bhinderwala, Fatema; Jones, Kaleb; Laws, Benjamin; Smith, Thomas; Morton, Martha; Powers, Robert. 2020. Phosphorus NMR and its application to metabolomics. Poster presentation, UCARE Research Fair, Spring 2020, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Copyright 2020 by the authors.


Stable isotopes are routinely employed by NMR metabolomics to highlight specific metabolic processes and to monitor pathway flux. 13C-carbon and 15N-nitrogen labeled nutrients are convenient sources of isotope tracers and are commonly added as supplements to a variety of biological systems ranging from cell cultures to animal models. Unlike 13C and 15N, 31P-phosphourous is a naturally abundant and NMR active isotope that doesn’t require an external supplemental source. To date, 31P NMR has seen limited usage in metabolomics because of a lack of reference spectra, difficulties in sample preparation, and an absence of two-dimensional (2D) NMR experiments. But, 31P NMR has the potential of expanding the coverage of the metabolome by detecting phosphorous-containing metabolites. Phosphorylated metabolites regulate key cellular processes, serve as a surrogate for intracellular pH conditions, and provides a measure of a cell’s metabolic energy and redox state, among other processes. Thus, incorporating 31P NMR into a metabolomics investigation will enable the detection of these key cellular processes. To facilitate the application of 31P NMR in metabolomics, we present a unified protocol that allows for the simultaneous and efficient detection of 1H-, 13C-, 15N- and 31P-labeled metabolites. The protocol includes the application of a 2D 1H-31P HSQC-TOCSY experiment to detect 31P-labeled metabolites from heterogeneous biological mixtures, methods for sample preparation to detect 1H-, 13C-, 15N- and 31P-labeled metabolites from a single NMR sample, and a dataset of one-dimensional (1D) 31P NMR and 2D 1H-31P HSQC-TOCSY spectra of 38 common phosphorus-containing metabolites to assist in metabolite assignments.