N-linked glycosylation profiling of pancreatic cancer serum using capillary liquid phase separation coupled with mass spectrometric analysis

J Proteome Res. 2007 Mar;6(3):1126-38. doi: 10.1021/pr0604458. Epub 2007 Jan 24.


Glycoproteins play important roles in various biological processes including intracellular transport, cell recognition, and cell-cell interactions. The change of the cellular glycosylation profile may have profound effects on cellular homeostasis and malignancy. Therefore, we have developed a sensitive screening approach for the comprehensive analysis of N-glycans and glycosylation sites on human serum proteins. Using this approach, N-linked glycopeptides were extracted by double lectin affinity chromatography. The glycans were enzymatically cleaved from the peptides and then profiled using capillary hydrophilic interaction liquid chromatography coupled online with ESI-TOF MS. The structures of the separated glycans were determined by MALDI quadrupole ion-trap TOF mass spectrometry in both positive and negative modes. The glycosylation sites were elucidated by sequencing of PNGase F modified glycopeptides using nanoRP-LC-ESI-MS/MS. Alterations of glycosylation were analyzed by comparing oligosaccharide expression of serum glycoproteins at different disease stages. The efficiency of this method was demonstrated by the analysis of pancreatic cancer serum compared to normal serum. Ninety-two individual glycosylation sites and 202 glycan peaks with 105 unique carbohydrate structures were identified from approximately 25 mug glycopeptides. Forty-four oligosaccharides were found to be distinct in the pancreatic cancer serum. Increased branching of N-linked oligosaccharides and increased fucosylation and sialylation were observed in samples from patients with pancreatic cancer. The methodology described in this study may elucidate novel, cancer-specific oligosaccharides and glycosylation sites, some of which may have utility as useful biomarkers of cancer.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Binding Sites
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Chromatography, Liquid*
  • Glycosylation
  • Humans
  • Mass Spectrometry*
  • Microchip Analytical Procedures
  • Neoplasm Proteins / blood*
  • Oligosaccharides / analysis
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / chemistry*
  • Proteomics / methods*


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Oligosaccharides