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J Proteome Res. 2012 Mar 2;11(3):1728-40. doi: 10.1021/pr201183w. Epub 2012 Feb 6.

Semi-automated identification of N-Glycopeptides by hydrophilic interaction chromatography, nano-reverse-phase LC-MS/MS, and glycan database search.

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Department of Oncology, Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, Georgetown University , 3970 Reservoir Road NW, Washington, DC 20057-1465, United States.


Glycoproteins fulfill many indispensable biological functions, and changes in protein glycosylation have been observed in various diseases. Improved analytical methods are needed to allow a complete characterization of this complex and common post-translational modification. In this study, we present a workflow for the analysis of the microheterogeneity of N-glycoproteins that couples hydrophilic interaction and nanoreverse-phase C18 chromatography to tandem QTOF mass spectrometric analysis. A glycan database search program, GlycoPeptideSearch, was developed to match N-glycopeptide MS/MS spectra with the glycopeptides comprised of a glycan drawn from the GlycomeDB glycan structure database and a peptide from a user-specified set of potentially glycosylated peptides. Application of the workflow to human haptoglobin and hemopexin, two microheterogeneous N-glycoproteins, identified a total of 57 distinct site-specific glycoforms in the case of haptoglobin and 14 site-specific glycoforms of hemopexin. Using glycan oxonium ions and peptide-characteristic glycopeptide fragment ions and by collapsing topologically redundant glycans, the search software was able to make unique N-glycopeptide assignments for 51% of assigned spectra, with the remaining assignments primarily representing isobaric topological rearrangements. The optimized workflow, coupled with GlycoPeptideSearch, is expected to make high-throughput semiautomated glycopeptide identification feasible for a wide range of users.

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