Identification of Low Abundant Isomeric N-Glycan Structures in Biological Therapeutics by LC/MS

Anal Chem. 2016 Jul 19;88(14):7049-59. doi: 10.1021/acs.analchem.6b00636. Epub 2016 Jun 27.


An effective LC-MS based method for online characterization of low abundant structural isomers of N-linked glycans in biological therapeutics was developed. N-linked glycans of a recombinant monoclonal antibody were released by PNGase F and labeled with 2-aminobenzamide (2-AB) fluorescent tag. The labeled glycans were analyzed by online ultraperformance liquid chromatography-hydrophilic interaction liquid chromatography (UPLC-HILIC) coupled with mass spectrometry (MS). The glycan structure was characterized by MS(n) fragmentation in negative ion mode followed by identification of the signature D ions. The assignment included monosaccharide sequence and linkage information. The developed method successfully characterized structural isomers of A1G1F (assigned as terminal sialic acid attached in the 1,6 branch at 2,3 position), and A1G1F' (assigned as terminal sialic acid attached in the 1,3 branch at 2,3 position). Moreover, using the same approach, previously unknown low abundant species were identified unambiguously. One such structural isomer at low level, terminal GlcNAc of G1F+GlcNAc, was identified to be linked at the 1,6 branch. Additionally, another low level structural isomer, previously assigned as Man8 glycan, was found to be Man7+Glc glycan as its 1,3 branch containing three mannoses and one terminal glucose. The identification was further confirmed by a purified α-1,2-endomannosidase enzyme to generate the cleavage of α-1,3 linked terminal disaccharides (Man+glucose). Using this approach, different lots or different CHO produced mAbs was thoroughly examined and found that the newly identified "Man8" (Man7+Glc) was also present in different batches and in some commercially available therapeutic mAbs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / chemistry*
  • Carbohydrate Sequence
  • Chromatography, Liquid / methods
  • Fluorescence
  • Fluorescent Dyes / chemistry
  • Isomerism
  • Mannosidases / chemistry
  • Mass Spectrometry / methods
  • Peptide-N4-(N-acetyl-beta-glucosaminyl) Asparagine Amidase / chemistry
  • Pichia / enzymology
  • Polysaccharides / chemistry*
  • ortho-Aminobenzoates / chemistry


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Polysaccharides
  • ortho-Aminobenzoates
  • Mannosidases
  • Peptide-N4-(N-acetyl-beta-glucosaminyl) Asparagine Amidase
  • anthranilamide