Post-column make-up flow (PCMF) enhances the performance of capillary-flow PGC-LC-MS/MS-based glycomics

Hannes Hinneburg, Sayantani Chatterjee, Falko Schirmeister, Terry Nguyen-Khuong, Nicolle H. Packer, Erdmann Rapp, Morten Thaysen-Andersen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Deep characterization of biologically relevant glycans remains challenging. Porous graphitized carbon–liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (PGC-LC-MS/MS) enables the quantitative elucidation of glycan fine structures. However, the early PGC-LC elution of smaller glycans (tri-, tetra-, and pentasaccharides) at low organic solvent content hampers their detection. In efforts to improve the glycan profiling sensitivity and accuracy, we present a new capillary-flow PGC-LC-MS/MS-based configuration comprising a post-column make-up flow (PCMF) that supplies an ion-promoting organic solvent to separated glycans prior to their detection by MS. The analytical performance of this setup was systematically evaluated against our existing capillary-flow PGC-LC-MS/MS platform (Jensen et al., Nat. Protoc.2012, 7, 1299). Specifically, the ion intensities and signal-to-noise ratios of various classes of nonderivatized glycans from N- and O-glycoproteins and fructooligosaccharide mixtures were compared using methanol (MeOH)-, isopropanol (IPA)-, and acetonitrile (ACN)-based PCMF at various concentrations. In particular, ACN- and IPA-based PCMF dramatically increased the signal response across all glycan types (30- to 100-fold), improved the MS/MS spectral quality, and reduced the quantitative glycoprofile variation between replicates. In particular, the detection of the early eluting glycans benefitted from the PCMF. The highest sensitivity gains were achieved with the supplements of 100% ACN and IPA (equating to 57% (v/v) net concentration at the ion source) while neither compromising the favorable PGC-LC properties including the high peak capacity and glycan isomer separation nor changing the MS detection behavior. In conclusion, PCMF-based PGC-LC-MS/MS dramatically improves the glycomics sensitivity, coverage, and quantitative accuracy not least for the difficult-to-detect early eluting and low-abundance glycans detached from N- and O-glycoproteins.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4559-4567
Number of pages9
JournalAnalytical Chemistry
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2 Apr 2019


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