Systems-wide analysis of glycoprotein conformational changes by limited deglycosylation assay

Simon Ngao Mule, Livia Rosa-Fernandes, João V. P. Coutinho, Vinícius De Morais Gomes, Janaina Macedo-da-Silva, Verônica Feijoli Santiago, Daniel Quina, Gilberto Santos de Oliveira, Morten Thaysen-Andersen, Martin R. Larsen, Letícia Labriola, Giuseppe Palmisano*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    1 Citation (Scopus)


    A new method to probe the conformational changes of glycoproteins on a systems-wide scale, termed limited deglycosylation assay (LDA), is described. The method measures the differential rate of deglycosylation of N-glycans on natively folded proteins by the common peptide:N-glycosidase F (PNGase F) enzyme which in turn informs on their spatial presentation and solvent exposure on the protein surface hence ultimately the glycoprotein conformation. LDA involves 1) protein-level N-deglycosylation under native conditions, 2) trypsin digestion, 3) glycopeptide enrichment, 4) peptide-level N-deglycosylation and 5) quantitative MS-based analysis of formerly N-glycosylated peptides (FNGPs). LDA was initially developed and the experimental conditions optimized using bovine RNase B and fetuin. The method was then applied to glycoprotein extracts from LLC-MK2 epithelial cells upon treatment with dithiothreitol to induce endoplasmic reticulum stress and promote protein misfolding. Data from the LDA and 3D structure analysis showed that glycoproteins predominantly undergo structural changes in loops/turns upon ER stress as exemplified with detailed analysis of ephrin-A5, GALNT10, PVR and BCAM. These results show that LDA accurately reports on systems-wide conformational changes of glycoproteins induced under controlled treatment regimes. Thus, LDA opens avenues to study glycoprotein structural changes in a range of other physiological and pathophysiological conditions relevant to acute and chronic diseases.

    Significance: We describe a novel method termed limited deglycosylation assay (LDA), to probe conformational changes of glycoproteins on a systems-wide scale. This method improves the current toolbox of structural proteomics by combining site and conformational-specific PNGase F enzymatic activity with large scale quantitative proteomics. X-ray crystallography, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and cryoEM techniques are the major techniques applied to elucidate macromolecule structures. However, the size and heterogeneity of the oligosaccharide chains poses several challenges to the applications of these techniques to glycoproteins. The LDA method presented here, can be applied to a range of pathophysiological conditions and expanded to investigate PTMs-mediated structural changes in complex proteomes.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number104355
    Pages (from-to)1-13
    Number of pages13
    JournalJournal of Proteomics
    Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2021


    • Glycoprotein
    • PNGase F
    • Mass spectrometry
    • Glycoproteomics
    • ER stress
    • N-glycosylation
    • Protein folding
    • Deglycosylation


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