Chem Sci 14 (20) 5291-5301 [2023-05-24; online 2023-04-06]
Sulfur is an essential element of life. Thiol-containing metabolites in all organisms are involved in the regulation of diverse biological processes. Especially, the microbiome produces bioactive metabolites or biological intermediates of this compound class. The analysis of thiol-containing metabolites is challenging due to the lack of specific tools, making these compounds difficult to investigate selectively. We have now developed a new methodology comprising bicyclobutane for chemoselective and irreversible capturing of this metabolite class. We utilized this new chemical biology tool immobilized onto magnetic beads for the investigation of human plasma, fecal samples, and bacterial cultures. Our mass spectrometric investigation detected a broad range of human, dietary and bacterial thiol-containing metabolites and we even captured the reactive sulfur species cysteine persulfide in both fecal and bacterial samples. The described comprehensive methodology represents a new mass spectrometric strategy for the discovery of bioactive thiol-containing metabolites in humans and the microbiome.