This study examined the relationship between glycans, metabolites, and development in C. elegans. Samples of N2 animals were synchronized and grown to five different time points ranging from L1 to a mixed population of adults, gravid adults, and offspring. Each time point was replicated seven times. The samples were each assayed by a large particle flow cytometer (Biosorter) for size distribution data, LC-MS/MS for targeted N- and O-linked glycans, and NMR for metabolites. The same samples were utilized for all measurements, which allowed for statistical correlations between the data. A new protocol was developed to correlate Biosorter developmental data with LC-MS/MS data to obtain stage-specific information of glycans. From the five time points, four distinct sizes of worms were observed from the Biosorter distributions, ranging from the smallest corresponding to L1 to adult animals. A network model was constructed using the four binned sizes of worms as starting nodes and adding glycans and metabolites that had correlations with r ≥ 0.5 to those nodes. The emerging structure of the network showed distinct patterns of N- and O-linked glycans that were consistent with previous studies. Furthermore, some metabolites that were correlated to these glycans and worm sizes showed interesting interactions. Of note, UDP-GlcNAc had strong positive correlations with many O-glycans that were expressed in the largest animals. Similarly, phosphorylcholine correlated with many N-glycans that were expressed in L1 animals.
Keywords: C. elegans; NMR; biosorter; development; glycomics; mass spectrometry; metabolomics.