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Anal Chem. 2013 Oct 15;85(20):9799-806. doi: 10.1021/ac402108x. Epub 2013 Oct 3.

Matrix assisted laser desorption ionization imaging mass spectrometry workflow for spatial profiling analysis of N-linked glycan expression in tissues.

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Department of Cell and Molecular Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics and MUSC Proteomics Center, Medical University of South Carolina , 173 Ashley Avenue, Charleston, South Carolina, 29425 United States.


A new matrix assisted laser desorption ionization imaging mass spectrometry (MALDI-IMS) method to spatially profile the location and distribution of multiple N-linked glycan species in tissues is described. Application of an endoglycosidase, peptide N-glycosidase F (PNGaseF), directly on tissues followed by incubation releases N-linked glycan species amenable to detection by MALDI-IMS. The method has been designed to simultaneously profile the multiple glycan species released from intracellular organelle and cell surface glycoproteins, while maintaining histopathology compatible preparation workflows. A recombinant PNGaseF enzyme was sprayed uniformly across mouse brain tissue slides, incubated for 2 h, then sprayed with 2,5-dihydroxybenzoic acid matrix for MALDI-IMS analysis. Using this basic approach, global snapshots of major cellular N-linked glycoforms were detected, including their tissue localization and distribution, structure, and relative abundance. Off-tissue extraction and modification of glycans from similarly processed tissues and further mass spectrometry or HPLC analysis was done to assign structural designations. MALDI-IMS has primarily been utilized to spatially profile proteins, lipids, drug, and small molecule metabolites in tissues, but it has not been previously applied to N-linked glycan analysis. The translatable MALDI-IMS glycan profiling workflow described herein can readily be applied to any tissue type of interest. From a clinical diagnostics perspective, the ability to differentially profile N-glycans and correlate their molecular expression to histopathological changes can offer new approaches to identifying novel disease related targets for biomarker and therapeutic applications.

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