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MALDI-imaging of early stage Xenopus laevis embryos

Wang, Man, Dubiak, Kyle, Zhang, Zhenbin, Huber, Paul W., Chen, David D.Y., Dovichi, Norman J.
Talanta 2019 v.204 pp. 138-144
Xenopus laevis, algorithms, cell communication, cell membranes, ceramides, digestive system, embryogenesis, ions, mass spectrometry, metabolites, models, phosphatidylcholines, programmed cell death, protein synthesis, vertebrates
Xenopus laevis is an important model organism for vertebrate development. An extensive literature has developed on changes in transcript expression during development of this organism, and there is a growing literature on the corresponding protein expression changes during development. In contrast, there is very little information on changes in metabolite expression during development. We present the first MALDI mass-spectrometry images of metabolites within the developing embryo. These images were generated for 142 metabolite ions. The images were subjected to an algorithm that revealed three spatially-resolved clusters of metabolites. One small cluster is localized near the outer membrane of the embryo. A large cluster of metabolites is found in cavities destined to form the neural tube and gut, and contains a number of ceramide species, which are associated with cellular signaling, including differentiation, proliferation, and programmed cell death. Another large cluster of metabolites is found in tissue and is dominated by phosphatidylcholines, which are common components of cell membranes. Surprisingly, no metabolites appear to be homogeneously distributed across the slices; metabolites are localized either within tissue or in cavities, but not both.