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Int J Mass Spectrom. 2012 Feb 15;312:144-154. Epub 2011 Jul 23.

Differential Characterization and Classification of Tissue Specific Glycosaminoglycans by Tandem Mass Spectrometry and Statistical Methods.

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Center for Biomedical Mass Spectrometry, Dept. of Biochemistry, Boston University, Boston, MA.


The biological functions of glycoconjugate glycans arise in the context of structural heterogeneity resulting from non-template driven biosynthetic reactions. Such heterogeneity is particularly apparent for the glycosaminoglycan (GAG) classes, of which heparan sulfate (HS) is of particular interest for its properties in binding to many classes of growth factors and growth factor receptors. The structures of HS chains vary according to spatial and temporal factors in biological systems as a mechanism where by the functions of the relatively limited number of associated proteoglycan core proteins is elaborated. Thus, there is a strong driver for the development of methods to discover functionally relevant structures in HS preparations for different sources. In the present work, a set of targeted tandem mass spectra were acquired in automated mode on HS oligosaccharides deriving from two different tissue sources. Statistical methods were used to determine the precursor and product ions, the abundances of which differentiate between the tissue sources. The results demonstrate considerable potential for using this approach to constrain the number of positional glycoform isomers present in different biological preparations toward the end of discovery of functionally relevant structures.

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