Ultrasensitive quantification of endogenous brassinosteroids in milligram fresh plant with a quaternary ammonium derivatization reagent by pipette-tip solid-phase extraction coupled with ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry.J Chromatogr A. 2016 Jul 22; 1456:105-12.JC
Determination of endogenous brassinosteroids (BRs) in limited sample amount is vital to elucidating their tissue- and even local tissue-specific signaling pathway and physiological effects on plant growth and development. In this work, an ultra-sensitive quantification method was established for endogenous BRs in milligram fresh plant by using pipette-tip solid-phase extraction coupled with ultra-performance liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (PT-SPE-UPLC-MS/MS), in which a quaternary ammonium phenyl boronic acid, 4-borono-N,N,N-trimethylbenzenaminium iodide (BTBA) was first developed for chemical derivatization of BRs. Due to the cationic quaternary ammonium group of BTBA, the ionization efficiencies of the BRs chelates with BTBA (BTBA-BRs) were enhanced by 1190-448785 times, which is the highest response enhancement factor among all derivatization reagents reported for BRs. In addition, PT-SPE packed with C18 sorbent was first used for purifying BRs from plant extracts, so the required sample amount was minimized, and recoveries higher than 91% were achieved. Under the optimized conditions, the minimal detectable amounts (MDA) of five target BRs were in the range of 27-94 amol, and the correlation coefficients (R(2)) were >0.9985 over four orders of magnitude. The relative recoveries of 75.8-104.9% were obtained with the intra- and inter-day relative standard deviations (RSDs) less than 18.7% and 19.6%, respectively. Finally, three BRs were successfully quantified in only 5mg fresh rice plant samples, and 24-epiBL can even be detected in only 0.5mg FW rice leaf segments. It is the first time that the BRs content in sub-milligram fresh plant sample has been quantified.