N-Glycans of Caenorhabditis elegans are specific to developmental stages

J Biol Chem. 2005 Jul 15;280(28):26063-72. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M503828200. Epub 2005 May 17.


We have examined the N-glycans present during the developmental stages of Caenorhabditis elegans using two approaches, 1) a combination of permethylation followed by MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry (MS) and 2) derivatization with 2-aminobenzamide followed by separation by high-performance liquid chromatography and analyses by MALDI-TOF MS, post source decay (PSD) MS, and MALDI-QoTOF MS/MS. The N-glycan profile of each developmental stage (Larva 1, Larva 2, Larva 3, Larva 4, and Dauer and adult) appears to be unique. The pattern of complex N-glycans was stage-specific with the general trend of number and abundance of glycans being Dauer approximately = L1 > adult approximately = L4 > L3 approximately = L2. Dauer larvae contained complex N-glycans with higher molecular masses than those seen in other stages. MALDI-QoTOF MS/MS of Hex4HexNAc4 showed an N-acetyllac-tosamine substitution not previously observed in C. elegans. Phosphorylcholine (Pc)-substituted glycans were also found to be stage-specific. Higher molecular weight Pc-containing glycans, including fucose-containing ones such as difucosyl Pc-glycan (Pc1dHex2Hex5HexNAc6) seen in Dauer larvae, have not been observed in any organism. Pc2Hex4HexNAc3, from Dauer larvae, when subjected to PSD MS analyses, showed Pc may substitute both core and terminally linked GlcNAc; no such structure has previously been reported in any organism. C. elegans-specific fucosyl and native methylated glycans were found in all developmental stages. Taken together, the above results demonstrate that in-depth investigation of the role of the above N-glycans during C. elegans development should lead to a better understanding of their significance and the ways that they may govern interactions, both within the organism during development and between the mobile nematode and its pathogens.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans
  • Carbohydrate Sequence
  • Chromatography
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Collagen / chemistry
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • Glycosylation
  • Hydrogen / chemistry
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Oligosaccharides / chemistry
  • Phosphorylcholine / chemistry
  • Polysaccharides / chemistry*
  • Polysaccharides / physiology*
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization
  • Time Factors
  • ortho-Aminobenzoates / chemistry
  • ortho-Aminobenzoates / pharmacology


  • Oligosaccharides
  • Polysaccharides
  • ortho-Aminobenzoates
  • Phosphorylcholine
  • Hydrogen
  • Collagen
  • anthranilamide