Mass spectrometric analysis of mutant mice

Methods Enzymol. 2010;478:27-77. doi: 10.1016/S0076-6879(10)78002-2.


Mass spectrometry (MS) has proven to be the preeminent tool for the rapid, high-sensitivity analysis of the primary structure of glycans derived from diverse biological sources including cells, fluids, secretions, tissues, and organs. These analyses are anchored by matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization time of flight (MALDI-TOF) analysis of permethylated derivatives of glycan pools released from the samples, to produce glycomic mass fingerprints. The application of complimentary techniques, such as chemical and enzymatic digestions, GC-MS linkage analysis, and tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) utilizing both electrospray (ES) and MALDI-TOF/TOF, together with bioinformatic tools allows the elucidation of incrementally more detailed structural information from the sample(s) of interest. The mouse as a model organism offers many advantages in the study of human biology, health, and disease; it is a mammal, shares 99% genetic homology with humans and its genome supports targeted mutagenesis in specific genes to produce knockouts efficiently and precisely. Glycomic analyses of tissues and organs from mice genetically deficient in one or more glycosylation gene and comparison with data collected from wild-type samples enables the facile identification of changes and perturbations within the glycome. The Consortium for Functional Glycomics (CFG) has been applying such MS-based glycomic analyses to a range of murine tissues from both wild-type and glycosylation-knockout mice in order to provide a repository of structural data for the glycobiology community. In this chapter, we describe in detail the methodologies used to prepare, derivatize, purify, and analyze glycan pools from mouse organs and tissues by MS. We also present a summary of data produced from the CFG systematic structural analysis of wild-type and knockout mouse tissues, together with a detailed example of a glycomic analysis of the Mgat4a knockout mouse.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Mass Spectrometry*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mutation*
  • Pancreas / chemistry*
  • Pancreas / enzymology*
  • Polysaccharides / chemistry*
  • Polysaccharides / genetics
  • alpha-Galactosidase / metabolism


  • Polysaccharides
  • alpha-Galactosidase