Automated annotation and quantitation of glycans by liquid chromatography/electrospray ionization mass spectrometric analysis using the MultiGlycan-ESI computational tool

Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom. 2015 Jan 15;29(1):135-42. doi: 10.1002/rcm.7093.


Rationale: Liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (LC/MS) is currently considered to be a conventional glycomics analysis strategy due to the high sensitivity and ability to handle complex biological samples. Interpretation of LC/MS data is a major bottleneck in high-throughput glycomics LC/MS-based analysis. The complexity of LC/MS data associated with biological samples prompts the needs to develop computational tools capable of facilitating automated data annotation and quantitation.

Methods: An LC/MS-based automated data annotation and quantitation software, MultiGlycan-ESI, was developed and utilized for glycan quantitation. Data generated by the software from LC/MS analysis of permethylated N-glycans derived from fetuin were initially validated by manual integration to assess the performance of the software. The performance of MultiGlycan-ESI was then assessed for the quantitation of permethylated fetuin N-glycans analyzed at different concentrations or spiked with permethylated N-glycans derived from human blood serum.

Results: The relative abundance differences between data generated by the software and those generated by manual integration were less than 5%, indicating the reliability of MultiGlycan-ESI in quantitation of permethylated glycans analyzed by LC/MS. Automated quantitation resulted in a linear relationship for all six N-glycans derived from 50 ng to 400 ng fetuin with correlation coefficients (R(2) ) greater than 0.93. Spiking of permethylated fetuin N-glycans at different concentrations in permethylated N-glycan samples derived from a 0.02 μL of HBS also exhibited linear agreement with R(2) values greater than 0.9.

Conclusions: With a variety of options, including mass accuracy, merged adducts, and filtering criteria, MultiGlycan-ESI allows automated annotation and quantitation of LC/ESI-MS N-glycan data. The software allows the reliable quantitation of glycan LC/MS data. The software is reliable for automated glycan quantitation, thus facilitating rapid and reliable high-throughput glycomics studies.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Chromatography, Liquid / methods*
  • Data Curation
  • Glycoproteins / blood
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Models, Chemical
  • Polysaccharides / analysis*
  • Polysaccharides / chemistry*
  • Software
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Electrospray Ionization / methods*


  • Glycoproteins
  • Polysaccharides