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Glycan family analysis for deducing N-glycan topology from single MS

 

Motivation: In the past few years, mass spectrometry (MS) has emerged as the premier tool for identification and quantification of biological molecules such as peptides and glycans. There are two basic strategies: single-MS, which uses a single round of mass analysis, and MS/MS (or higher order MSn), which adds one or more additional rounds of mass analysis, interspersed with fragmentation steps. Single-MS offers higher throughput, broader mass coverage and more direct quantitation, but generally much weaker identification. Single-MS, however, does work fairly well for the case of N-glycan identification, which are more constrained than other biological polymers. We previously demonstrated single-MS identification of N-glycans to the level of ‘cartoons’ (monosaccharide composition and topology) by a system that incorporates an expert's detailed knowledge of the biological sample. In this article, we explore the possibility of ab initio single-MS N-glycan identification, with the goal of extending single-MS, or primarily-single-MS, identification to non-expert users, novel conditions and unstudied tissues.

Results: We propose and test three cartoon-assignment algorithms that make inferences informed by biological knowledge about glycan synthesis. To test the algorithms, we used 71 single-MS spectra from a variety of tissues and organisms, containing more than 2800 manually annotated peaks. The most successful of the algorithms computes the most richly connected subgraph within a ‘cartoon graph’. This algorithm uniquely assigns the correct cartoon to more than half of the peaks in 41 out of the 71 spectra.

 
citation

Goldberg, D.; Bern, M.; North, S. J.; Haslam, S. M.; Dell, A. Glycan family analysis for deducing N-glycan topology from single MS. Bioinformatics. 2009 February 1; 25 (3): 365-371.