Site-specific glycoprofiling of N-linked glycopeptides using MALDI-TOF MS: Strong correlation between signal strength and glycoform quantities

Morten Thaysen-Andersen, Simon Mysling, Peter Højrup*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

95 Citations (Scopus)


Site-specific glycoprofiling of N-linked glycopeptides using matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) is an emerging technique, but its quantitative accuracy lacks documentation. Thus, a systematic study of widely different glycopeptides was performed to determine the relationship between the relative abundances of the individual glycoforms and the MALDI-TOF MS signal strength. Glycopeptides derived from glycoproteins containing neutral glycans (ribonuclease B, IgG, and ovalbumin) were initially profiled and yielded excellent and reproducible quantitation (correlation coefficient r = 0.9958, n = 5) when evaluated against a normal phase HPLC 2-AB glycan profile. Similarly, precise quantitation was observed for various forms of N-glycans (free, permethylated, and fluorescence-labeled) using MS. In addition, three different sialoglycopeptides from fetuin were site-specifically profiled, and good correlation between peak intensities and relative abundances was found with only a minor loss of sialic acids ( r = 0.9664, n = 5). For glycopeptide purification, a range of hydrophilic and graphite materials packed in microcolumn format proved capable of performing desalting without loss of quantitative information, but highlighted the column capacity as a critical parameter. In conclusion, MALDI-TOF MS signal strength of glycopeptides has been found to accurately reflect the relative quantities of glycoforms, providing that certain technical issues are considered, i.e., nonbiased sample handling, matrix choice, and instrumental settings. This enables rapid and sensitive site-specific glycoprofiling of N-glycan populations to promote biomarker discovery and elucidation of glycan structure/function relationships.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3933-3943
Number of pages11
JournalAnalytical Chemistry
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2009
Externally publishedYes


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