Identification of protein O-GlcNAcylation sites using electron transfer dissociation mass spectrometry on native peptides

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Jun 2;106(22):8894-9. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0900288106. Epub 2009 May 19.


Protein O-GlcNAcylation occurs in all animals and plants and is implicated in modulation of a wide range of cytosolic and nuclear protein functions, including gene silencing, nutrient and stress sensing, phosphorylation signaling, and diseases such as diabetes and Alzheimer's. The limiting factor impeding rapid progress in deciphering the biological functions of protein O-GlcNAcylation has been the inability to easily identify exact residues of modification. We describe a robust, high-sensitivity strategy able to assign O-GlcNAcylation sites of native modified peptides using electron transfer dissociation mass spectrometry. We have studied the murine postsynaptic density pseudoorganelle and report the assignment of 58 modification sites from a single experiment--significantly increasing the number of sites known in the literature. Components of several repressor complexes, such as NCoR1, polyhomeotic-like protein3, and EMSY, are modified. In addition, 28 O-GlcNAc sites were found on the protein Bassoon, effectively matching the number of phosphorylation sites reported previously on this protein. This finding suggests that on certain proteins, O-GlcNAcylation may be as extensive and important as phosphorylation in regulating protein function. Three of the newly discovered O-GlcNAc sites on Bassoon have previously been reported as phosphorylation sites, highlighting the interplay of the modifications. Surprisingly, several peptides with GlcNAc modifications on asparagines within the N-X-S/T consensus sequence were also observed from membrane protein extracellular domains. This powerful strategy fulfills a long-standing need in the biological community by facilitating modification site identifications that will accelerate understanding of the biological significance of this elusive regulatory posttranslational modification.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acetylglucosamine / chemistry*
  • Acetylglucosamine / metabolism
  • Acylation
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Consensus Sequence
  • Electron Transport
  • Mass Spectrometry / methods
  • Mice
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / chemistry*
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism
  • Peptides
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational*


  • Bsn protein, mouse
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Peptides
  • Acetylglucosamine