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Anal Chem. 2013 Dec 17;85(24):11979-86. doi: 10.1021/ac402931j. Epub 2013 Nov 22.

De novo sequencing of heparan sulfate oligosaccharides by electron-activated dissociation.

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Mass Spectrometry Resource, Department of Biochemistry, Boston University School of Medicine , 670 Albany Street, Suite 504, Boston, Massachusetts 02118, United States.


Structural characterization of highly sulfated glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) by collisionally activated dissociation (CAD) is challenging because of the extensive sulfate losses mediated by free protons. While removal of the free protons may be achieved through the use of derivatization, metal cation adducts, and/or electrospray supercharging reagents, these steps add complexity to the experimental workflow. It is therefore desirable to develop an analytical approach for GAG sequencing that does not require derivatization or addition of reagents to the electrospray solution. Electron detachment dissociation (EDD) can produce extensive and informative fragmentation for GAGs without the need to remove free protons from the precursor ions. However, EDD is an inefficient process, often requiring consumption of large sample quantities (typically several micrograms), particularly for highly sulfated GAG ions. Here, we report that with improved instrumentation, optimization of the ionization and ion transfer parameters, and enhanced EDD efficiency, it is possible to generate highly informative EDD spectra of highly sulfated GAGs on the liquid chromatography (LC) timescale, with consumption of only a few nanograms of sample. We further show that negative electron transfer dissociation (NETD) is an even more effective fragmentation technique for GAG sequencing, producing fewer sulfate losses while consuming smaller amount of samples. Finally, a simple algorithm was developed for de novo HS sequencing based on their high-resolution tandem mass spectra. These results demonstrate the potential of EDD and NETD as sensitive analytical tools for detailed, high-throughput, de novo structural analyses of highly sulfated GAGs.

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