Deciphering Protein Glycosylation by Computational Integration of On-chip Profiling, Glycan-array Data, and Mass Spectrometry

Mol Cell Proteomics. 2019 Jan;18(1):28-40. doi: 10.1074/mcp.RA118.000906. Epub 2018 Sep 26.


The difficulty in uncovering detailed information about protein glycosylation stems from the complexity of glycans and the large amount of material needed for the experiments. Here we report a method that gives information on the isomeric variants of glycans in a format compatible with analyzing low-abundance proteins. On-chip glycan modification and probing (on-chip gmap) uses sequential and parallel rounds of exoglycosidase cleavage and lectin profiling of microspots of proteins, together with algorithms that incorporate glycan-array analyses and information from mass spectrometry, when available, to computationally interpret the data. In tests on control proteins with simple or complex glycosylation, on-chip gmap accurately characterized the relative proportions of core types and terminal features of glycans. Subterminal features (monosaccharides and linkages under a terminal monosaccharide) were accurately probed using a rationally designed sequence of lectin and exoglycosidase incubations. The integration of mass information further improved accuracy in each case. An alternative use of on-chip gmap was to complement the mass spectrometry analysis of detached glycans by specifying the isomers that comprise the glycans identified by mass spectrometry. On-chip gmap provides the potential for detailed studies of glycosylation in a format compatible with clinical specimens or other low-abundance sources.

Keywords: Bioinformatics; Exoglycosidase; Glycoproteomics; Glycosidase; Glycosylation; Micro Arrays; Protein Array.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Computational Biology / methods*
  • Fetuins / chemistry*
  • Glycosylation
  • Humans
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Polysaccharides / chemistry*
  • Protein Array Analysis
  • Transferrin / chemistry*


  • Fetuins
  • Polysaccharides
  • Transferrin