Large-scale site-specific mapping of the O-GalNAc glycoproteome

Nat Protoc. 2020 Aug;15(8):2589-2610. doi: 10.1038/s41596-020-0345-1. Epub 2020 Jul 17.


Protein glycosylation is one of the most common protein modifications. A major type of protein glycosylation is O-GalNAcylation, in which GalNAc-type glycans are attached to protein Ser or Thr residues via an O-linked glycosidic bond. O-GalNAcylation is thought to play roles in protein folding, stability, trafficking and protein interactions, and identification of the site-specific O-GalNAc glycoproteome is a crucial step toward understanding the biological significance of the modification. However, lack of suitable methodology, absence of consensus sequon of O-GalNAcylation sites and complex O-GalNAc glycan structures pose analytical challenges. We recently developed a mass spectrometry-based method called extraction of O-linked glycopeptides (EXoO) that enables large-scale mapping of site-specific mucin-type O-GalNAcylation sites. Here we provide a detailed protocol for EXoO, which includes seven stages of: (1) extraction and proteolytic digestion of proteins to peptides, (2) sequential guanidination and de-salting of peptides, (3) enrichment of glycopeptides, (4) solid-phase peptide conjugation and release of O-GalNAc glycopeptides using the OpeRATOR protease, (5) liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry analysis of O-GalNAc glycopeptides, (6) identification of O-GalNAc glycopeptides by database search and (7) quantification of O-GalNAc glycopeptides. Using this protocol, thousands of O-GalNAcylation sites from hundreds of glycoproteins with information regarding site-specific O-GalNAc glycan can be identified and quantified from complex samples. The protocol can be performed by a researcher with basic proteomics skills and takes about 4 d to complete.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acetylgalactosamine / metabolism*
  • Glycoproteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Proteomics / methods*


  • Glycoproteins
  • Acetylgalactosamine