Detection of Clostridium perfringens enterotoxin (CPE) in human stool is critical evidence of food poisoning. However, processing patient-derived samples is difficult and very few methods exist to confirm the presence of CPE. In this study, a technique was developed using proteomic analysis to identify and quantify CPE in artificial gut fluid as an alternative.
The standard CPE was spiked into artificial gut fluids, and effective methods were developed by employing both a stable isotope-labelled internal standard peptide and liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry (LC–MS/MS).
Proteotypic peptide EILDLAAATER formed by tryptic digestion was selected for quantitation of CPE. The peptide was identified using product ion spectra. Although the nontoxic peptides originating from CPE showed very low detectability in extraction and tryptic digestion, they could be detected with sufficient sensitivity using the method we developed. Based on a spiked recovery test at two concentrations (50 and 200 µg/kg), the recovery values were 85 and 78%, respectively. The relative standard deviations of repeatability and within-laboratory reproducibility were less than 8 and 11%, respectively. These standard deviations satisfied the criteria of the Japanese validation guidelines for residues (MHLW 2010, Director Notice, Syoku-An No. 1224–1). The limit of quantification (LOQ) was estimated to be 50 µg/kg. The combination of the product ion spectra and relative ion ratio supported CPE identification at the LOQ level.
To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of proteomic analysis of CPE using LC–MS/MS. The method would greatly help in assessing CPE reliably.