High-sensitivity FAB-MS strategies for O-GlcNAc characterization

A. J. Reason, I. P. Blench, R. S. Haltiwanger, Gerald Warren Hart, H. R. Morris, M. Panico, A. Dell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper we report the first application of fast atom bombardment mass spectrometry (FAB-MS) to O-linked N-acetylglucosamine (O-GIcNAc)-bearing glycopeptides. Using N-acetylgalactosamine (GalNAc)- and Gal-GalNAc-containing glycopeptides (isolated from Tn glycophorin and desialylated normal glycophorin, respectively) as readily available model compounds, rapid and sensitive derivatization/FAB-MS strategies applicable to serine/ threonine-rich glycopeptides have been devised. Peptides and glycopeptides were propionylated in a 1 min reaction using a mixture of trifluoroacetic anhydride and propionic acid, and the product mixtures were analysed directly by FAB-MS. Glycopeptides and peptides rich in hydroxylated residues afforded characteristic clusters of molecular ions at high sensitivity. Additional sensitivity enhancement was achieved by prior esterification of carboxyl groups. These methods were used in a study of O-GlcNAc glycopeptides produced by purified O-GlcNAc transferase addition of GlcNAc to the synthetic peptides YSDSPSTST and YSGSPSTST in which Y is tyrosine, S is serine, D is aspartic acid, P is proline, T is threonine and G is glycine. The propionyl derivatives afforded high-quality spectra which unequivocally showed that the majority of the glycopeptides were substituted with a single GlcNAc residue. Low pmol quantities of material gave detectable signals. The propionylation/FAB-MS procedure has been combined with gas-phase sequencing strategies and shows promise for defining the sites of glycosylation of O-GlcNAc glycopeptides that are available in limited quantities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)585-594
Number of pages10
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1991


  • Fast atom bombardment mass spectrometry
  • Glyco-sylation sites
  • O-GlcNAc
  • Propionylation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics, Probability and Uncertainty
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Hematology
  • Biochemistry

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