In this work, we introduce the application of proton transfer reaction mass spectrometry (PTR-MS) for the selection of improved terpene synthase mutants. In comparison with gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC-MS)-based methods, PTR-MS could offer advantages by reduction of sample preparation steps and analysis time. The method we propose here allows for minimal sample preparation and analysis time and provides a promising platform for the high throughput screening (HTS) of large enzyme mutant libraries. To investigate the feasibility of a PTR-MS-based screening method, we employed a small library of Callitropsis nootkatensis valencene synthase (CnVS) mutants. Bacterial cultures expressing enzyme mutants were subjected to different growth formats, and headspace terpenes concentrations measured by PTR-Qi-ToF-MS were compared with GC-MS, to rank the activity of the enzyme mutants. For all cultivation formats, including 96 deep well plates, PTR-Qi-ToF-MS resulted in the same ranking of the enzyme variants, compared with the canonical format using 100 mL flasks and GC-MS analysis. This study provides a first basis for the application of rapid PTR-Qi-ToF-MS detection, in combination with multi-well formats, in HTS screening methods for the selection of highly productive terpene synthases.
- high throughput screening