Author(s): Harvey DJ, Royle L, Radcliffe CM, Rudd PM, Dwek RA
Abstract Negative ion electrospray (ESI) fragmentation spectra derived from anion-adducted glycans were evaluated for structural determination of N-linked glycans and found to be among the most useful mass spectrometric techniques yet developed for this purpose. In contrast to the more commonly used positive ion spectra that contain isobaric ions formed by losses from different regions of the molecules and often lead to ambiguous deductions, the negative ion spectra contain ions that directly reflect structural features such as the branching pattern, location of fucose, and the presence of bisecting GlcNAc. These structural features are sometimes difficult to determine by traditional methods. Furthermore, the spectra give structural information from mixtures of isomers and from single compounds. The method was evaluated with well-characterized glycans from IgG and used to explore structures of N-linked glycans released from serum glycoproteins with the aim of identifying biomarkers for cancer. Quantities of glycans were measured by ESI and by matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization mass spectrometry; each technique produced virtually identical results for the neutral desialylated glycans.