The structures of phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) in Leishmania infantum are unique in that they consist of a rare cyclopropane fatty acid (CFA) containing PE subfamily, including CFA-containing plasmalogen PE species. In this contribution, we applied multiple-stage linear ion-trap combined with high-resolution mass spectrometry to define the structures of PEs that were desorbed as [M - H]- and [M - H + 2Li]+ ions by ESI, respectively. The structural information arising from MSn on both the molecular species are complimentary, permitting complete determination of PE structures, including the identities of the fatty acid substituents and their location on the glycerol backbone, more importantly, the positions of the double bond(s) and of the cyclopropane chain of the fatty acid chain, directing to the realization of the CFA biosynthesis pathways that were reported previously. We also uncovered the presence of a minor dimethyl-PE subclass that has not been previously reported in L. infantum. This LIT MSn mass spectrometric approach led to unambiguous identification of PE molecules including many isomers in complex mixture that would otherwise be very difficult to define using other analytical approaches.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-209
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Mass Spectrometry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2014


  • ESI
  • Leishmania infantum
  • Leishmania major
  • cyclopropane fatty acids
  • linear ion-trap mass spectrometry
  • phosphatidylethanolamine
  • plasmenylethanolamine


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