Species-specific variation in glycosylation of IgG: evidence for the species-specific sialylation and branch-specific galactosylation and importance for engineering recombinant glycoprotein therapeutics

Glycobiology. 2000 May;10(5):477-86. doi: 10.1093/glycob/10.5.477.


Immunoglobulins (IgG) are soluble serum glycoproteins in which the oligosaccharides play significant roles in the bioactivity and pharmacokinetics. Recombinant immuno-globulins (rIgG) produced in different host cells by recombinant DNA technology are becoming major therapeutic agents to treat life threatening diseases such as cancer. Since glycosylation is cell type specific, rIgGs produced in different host cells contain different patterns of oligosaccharides which could affect the biological functions. In order to determine the extent of this variation N-linked oligosaccharide structures present in the IgGs of different animal species were characterized. IgGs of human, rhesus, dog, cow, guinea pig, sheep, goat, horse, rat, mouse, rabbit, cat, and chicken were treated with peptide-N-glycosidase-F (PNGase F) and the oligosaccharides analyzed by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF-MS) for neutral and acidic oligosaccharides, in positive and negative ion modes, respectively. The data show that for neutral oligosaccharides, the proportions of terminal Gal, core Fuc and/or bisecting GlcNAc containing oligosaccharides vary from species to species; for sialylated oligosaccharides in the negative mode MALDI-TOF-MS show that human and chicken IgG contain oligosaccharides with N-acetylneuraminic acid (NANA), whereas rhesus, cow, sheep, goat, horse, and mouse IgGs contain oligosaccharides with N-glycolylneuraminic acid (NGNA). In contrast, IgGs from dog, guinea pig, rat, and rabbit contain both NANA and NGNA. Further, the PNGase F released oligosaccharides were derivatized with 9-aminopyrene 1,4,6-trisulfonic acid (APTS) and analyzed by capillary electrophoresis with laser induced fluorescence detection (CE-LIF). The CE-LIF results indicate that the proportion of the two isomers of monogalactosylated, biantennary, complex oligosaccharides vary significantly, suggesting that the branch specificity of beta1, 4-galactosyltransferase might be different in different species. These results show that the glycosylation of IgGs is species-specific, and reveal the necessity for appropriate cell line selection to express rIgGs for human therapy. The results of this study are useful for people working in the transgenic area.

MeSH terms

  • Amidohydrolases / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Carbohydrate Conformation
  • Carbohydrate Sequence
  • Galactose / chemistry*
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Glycosylation
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Immunoglobulin G / chemistry*
  • Immunoglobulin G / genetics*
  • Immunoglobulin G / therapeutic use
  • Mannose / chemistry
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • N-Acetylneuraminic Acid / chemistry*
  • Oligosaccharides / chemistry
  • Peptide-N4-(N-acetyl-beta-glucosaminyl) Asparagine Amidase
  • Recombinant Proteins / therapeutic use*
  • Species Specificity*
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization


  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Oligosaccharides
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Amidohydrolases
  • Peptide-N4-(N-acetyl-beta-glucosaminyl) Asparagine Amidase
  • N-Acetylneuraminic Acid
  • Mannose
  • Galactose