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Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom. 2006;20(11):1747-54.

Mass spectrometry of proton adducts of fucosylated N-glycans: fucose transfer between antennae gives rise to misleading fragments.

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Biomolecular Mass Spectrometry Unit, Department of Parasitology, Center of Infectious Diseases, Leiden University Medical Center, P.O. Box 9600, 2300 RC Leiden, The Netherlands.


Fragmentation behavior of fucosylated N-glycans in both protonated and sodiated form was studied by low-energy collision-induced dissociation with an ion trap mass spectrometer as well as by laser-induced dissociation with matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization tandem time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF/TOF-MS). Diantennary, core-(alpha1-6)-fucosylated N-glycans with Lewis X (Gal(beta1-4)[Fuc(alpha1-3)]GlcNAcbeta1-) and/or fucosylated LacdiNAc antennae (GalNAc(beta1-4)[Fuc(alpha1-3)]GlcNAcbeta1-) were obtained from the human parasite Schistosoma mansoni and used as model substances, after labeling with 2-aminobenzamide, or as native reducing glycans. While fragment spectra of sodiated as well as protonated species obtained in both mass spectrometers resulted in B- and Y-type ions, fragmentation of proton adducts additionally gave rise to various fragment ions which had acquired fucose residues from other parts of the molecule. In particular, fucose was transferred efficiently to the Lewis X antennae suggesting the occurrence of difucosylated antennae, which could erroneously be interpreted as Lewis Y epitopes. By studying two additional model substances, this fucose gain was shown to occur by transfer of fucose between the antennae, but not by transfer of a core-(alpha1-6)-fucose. Despite the drastically different lifetimes of the ions, protonated species analyzed on the ion trap (millisecond range) and by MALDI-TOF/TOF-MS (microsecond range) showed similar rearrangement patterns, suggesting that the fucose mobility goes hand in hand with decomposition. Notably, permethylation of the model N-glycans seemed to completely preclude fucose migration. This study indicates that caution should be applied with the interpretation of tandem mass spectrometric (MS/MS) data of protonated glycoconjugates, including glycopeptides, because of the potential occurrence of fucose rearrangements.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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