Nilsson J, Noborn F, Gomez Toledo A, Nasir W, Sihlbom C, Larson G
J. Am. Soc. Mass Spectrom. 28 (2) 229-241 [2017-02-00; online 2016-11-21]
Purification and liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) characterization of glycopeptides, originating from protease digests of glycoproteins, enables site-specific analysis of protein N- and O-glycosylations. We have described a protocol to enrich, hydrolyze by chondroitinase ABC, and characterize chondroitin sulfate-containing glycopeptides (CS-glycopeptides) using positive mode LC-MS/MS. The CS-glycopeptides, originating from the Bikunin proteoglycan of human urine samples, had ΔHexAGalNAcGlcAGalGalXyl-O-Ser hexasaccharide structure and were further substituted with 0-3 sulfate and 0-1 phosphate groups. However, it was not possible to exactly pinpoint sulfate attachment residues, for protonated precursors, due to extensive fragmentation of sulfate groups using high-energy collision induced dissociation (HCD). To circumvent the well-recognized sulfate instability, we now introduced Na + ions to form sodiated precursors, which protected sulfate groups from decomposition and facilitated the assignment of sulfate modifications. Sulfate groups were pinpointed to both Gal residues and to the GalNAc of the hexasaccharide structure. The intensities of protonated and sodiated saccharide oxonium ions were very prominent in the HCD-MS2 spectra, which provided complementary structural analysis of sulfate substituents of CS-glycopeptides. We have demonstrated a considerable heterogeneity of the bikunin CS linkage region. The realization of these structural variants should be beneficial in studies aimed at investigating the importance of the CS linkage region with regards to the biosynthesis of CS and potential interactions to CS binding proteins. Also, the combined use of protonated and sodiated precursors for positive mode HCD fragmentation analysis will likely become useful for additional classes of sulfated glycopeptides. Graphical Abstract ᅟ.