Glycomic profiling of cells and tissues by mass spectrometry: fingerprinting and sequencing methodologies

Methods Enzymol. 2006:415:59-86. doi: 10.1016/S0076-6879(06)15005-3.


Over the past decade, rapid, high-sensitivity mass spectrometric strat-egies have been developed and optimized for screening for the types of N- and O-glycans present in a diverse range of biological material, including secretions, cell lines, tissues, and organs. These glycomic strategies are based on matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) time-of-flight mass fingerprinting of permethylated derivatives, combined with electrospray (ES) or MALDI tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) sequencing and gas chromatography (GC)-MS linkage analysis, complemented by chemical and enzymatic degradations. Protocols for these methods are described in the first part of this chapter. Glycomic experiments yield large volumes of MS data, and interpretation of the resulting spectra remains a time-consuming bottleneck in the process. In the second part of this chapter, we describe the use and operation of a mass spectral viewer program capable of displaying and automatically labeling spectra arising from MALDI fingerprinting of N-glycans.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Carbohydrate Conformation*
  • Carbohydrate Sequence*
  • Glycoproteins / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Peptides / chemistry
  • Peptides / metabolism
  • Polysaccharides / chemistry*
  • Proteomics / methods
  • Software
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization / methods*


  • Glycoproteins
  • Peptides
  • Polysaccharides