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J Am Soc Mass Spectrom. 2005 May;16(5):622-30.

Fragmentation of negative ions from carbohydrates: part 1. Use of nitrate and other anionic adducts for the production of negative ion electrospray spectra from N-linked carbohydrates.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, Glycobiology Institute, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom.


Negative ion spectra of N-linked glycans were produced by electrospray from a dilute solution of the glycans and various salts in methanol:water using a Waters-Micromass Q-TOF Ultima Global tandem quadrupole/time-of-flight (Q-TOF) mass spectrometer. Stable anionic adducts were formed with chloride, bromide, iodide, nitrate, sulphate, and phosphate. Unstable adducts that fragmented by a cross-ring cleavage of the reducing N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc) residue, were formed with fluoride, nitride, sulphide, carbonate, bicarbonate, hydroxide, and acetate. Nitrate adducts prepared from ammonium nitrate produced the most satisfactory spectra as they were relatively free from in-source fragmentation products and gave signals that were about ten times as strong as those from corresponding [M - H]- ions prepared from solutions containing ammonium hydroxide. Detection limits were in the region of 20 fmol. Neutral glycans gave both singly- and doubly-charged ions with the larger glycans preferring the formation of doubly-charged ions. Acidic glycans with several acidic groups gave ions in higher charge states as the result of ionization of the anionic groups. Low energy collision-induced decomposition (CID) spectra of the singly-charged ions were dominated by cross-ring and C-type fragments, unlike the corresponding spectra of the positive ions that contained mainly B- and Y-type glycosidic fragments. Formation of these ions could be rationalized by proton abstraction from various hydroxy groups by an initially-formed anionic adduct. Prominent glycosidic and cross-ring cleavage ions defined structural features such as the specific composition of each of the two antennae, presence of a bisecting GlcNAc residue and location of fucose residues, details that were difficult to determine by conventional techniques. Acidic glycans fragmented differently on account of charge localization on the acid functions rather than the hydroxy groups.

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