Synthesis of a Highly Azide-Reactive and Thermosensitive Biofunctional Reagent for Efficient Enrichment and Large-Scale Identification of O-GlcNAc Proteins by Mass Spectrometry

Anal Chem. 2017 Jun 6;89(11):5810-5817. doi: 10.1021/acs.analchem.6b04960. Epub 2017 May 16.


O-linked β-N-acetylglucosamine (O-GlcNAc) is a ubiquitous post-translational modification of proteins in eukaryotic cells. Despite their low abundance, O-GlcNAc-modified proteins play many important roles in regulating gene expression, signal transduction, and cell cycle. Aberrant O-GlcNAc proteins are correlated with many major human diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, and cancer. Because of the extremely low stoichiometry of O-GlcNAc proteins, enrichment is required before mass spectrometry analysis for large-scale identification and in-depth understanding of their cellular function. In this work, we designed and synthesized a novel thermosensitive immobilized triarylphosphine reagent as a convenient tool for efficient enrichment of azide-labeled O-GlcNAc proteins from complex biological samples. Immobilization of triarylphosphine on highly water-soluble thermosensitive polymer largely increases its solubility and reactivity in aqueous solution. As a result, facilitated coupling is achieved between triarylphosphine and azide-labeled O-GlcNAc proteins via Staudinger ligation, due to the increased triarylphosphine concentration, reduced interfacial mass transfer resistance, and steric hindrance in homogeneous reaction. Furthermore, solubility of the polymer from complete dissolution to full precipitation can be easily controlled by simply adjusting the environmental temperature. Therefore, facile sample recovery can be achieved by increasing the temperature to precipitate the polymer-O-GlcNAc protein conjugates from solution. This novel immobilized triarylphosphine reagent enables efficient enrichment and sensitive detection of more than 1700 potential O-GlcNAc proteins from HeLa cell using mass spectrometry, demonstrating its potential as a general strategy for low-abundance target enrichment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't