Oct 9, 2019

Metabolic Measurements of Nonpermeating Compounds in Live Cells Using Hyperpolarized NMR

Liu, Mengxiao, and Christian Hilty. “Metabolic Measurements of Nonpermeating Compounds in Live Cells Using Hyperpolarized NMR.” Analytical Chemistry 90, no. 2 (January 16, 2018): 1217–22.


Hyperpolarization by dissolution dynamic nuclear polarization (D-DNP) has emerged as a technique for enhancing NMR signals by several orders of magnitude, thereby facilitating the characterization of metabolic pathways both in vivo and in vitro. Following the introduction of an externally hyperpolarized compound, real-time NMR enables the measurement of metabolic flux in the corresponding pathway. Spin relaxation however limits the maximum experimental time and prevents the use of this method with compounds exhibiting slow membrane transport rates. Here, we demonstrate that electroporation can serve as a method for membrane permeabilization for use with D-DNP in cell cultures. An electroporation apparatus hyphenated with stopped flow sample injection permits the introduction of the hyperpolarized metabolite within 3 s after the electrical pulse. In yeast cells that do not readily take up pyruvate, the addition of the electroporation pulse to the D-DNP experiment increases the signals of the downstream metabolic products CO2 and HCO3 -, which otherwise are near the detection limit, by 8.2 and 8.6-fold. Modeling of the time dependence of these signals then permits the determination of the respective kinetic rate constants. The observed conversion rate from pyruvate to CO2 normalized for cell density was found to increase by a factor of 12 due to the alleviation of the membrane transport limitation. Using electroporation therefore extends the applicability of D-DNP to in vitro studies to a wider range of metabolites, and at the same time reduces the influence of membrane transport on the observed conversion rates.