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J Am Soc Mass Spectrom. 2003 Nov;14(11):1270-81.

Tandem mass spectrometric strategies for determination of sulfation positions and uronic acid epimerization in chondroitin sulfate oligosaccharides.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts 02118-2526, USA.


Chondroitin sulfate (CS) is a glycosaminoglycan consisting of repeating (HexA-GalNAc sulfate) disaccharides, the functions of which depend on patterns of sulfation and uronic acid epimerization. The correlation of biological activities with structure requires a strategy to determine the sequences of CS oligosaccharides without the need for total isolation. Tandem mass spectrometry has enabled the development of proteomics, based on CID fragmentation of ions produced from complex mixtures of proteolytic peptides, and has the potential for rapid sequencing of CS and other glycosaminoglycan classes. The most challenging aspects of CS sequencing are to distinguish GalNAc residues sulfated at the 4- versus the 6-position and uronic acid epimers. This work describes the utility of (1) reducing terminal derivatives and (2) control of precursor ion charge state for tandem mass spectrometric strategies for determining GalNAc sulfation positional isomers of CS. The capability of tandem MS to differentiate uronic acid epimers is also shown, providing evidence that complete or nearly complete information on CS covalent structure may be obtained using tandem MS.

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