Developments in mass spectrometry (MS)-based analyses of glycoproteins have been important to study changes in glycosylation related to disease. Recently, the characteristic pattern of oxonium ions in glycopeptide fragmentation spectra had been used to assign different sets of glycopeptides. In particular, this was helpful to discriminate between O-GalNAc and O-GlcNAc. Here, we thought to investigate how such information can be used to examine quantitative proteomics data. For this purpose, we used tandem mass tag (TMT)-labeled samples from total cell lysates and secreted proteins from three different colorectal cancer cell lines. Following automated glycopeptide assignment (Byonic) and evaluation of the presence and relative intensity of oxonium ions, we observed that, in particular, the ratio of the ions at m/z 144.066 and 138.055, respectively, could be used to discriminate between O-GlcNAcylated and O-GalNAcylated peptides, with concomitant relative quantification between the different cell lines. Among the O-GalNAcylated proteins, we also observed anterior gradient protein 2 (AGR2), a protein which glycosylation site and status was hitherto not well documented. Using a combination of multiple fragmentation methods, we then not only assigned the site of modification, but also showed different glycosylation between intracellular (ER-resident) and secreted AGR2. Overall, our study shows the potential of broad application of the use of the relative intensities of oxonium ions for the confident assignment of glycopeptides, even in complex proteomics datasets.
Keywords: AGR2; LC−MS/MS; O-glycosylation; TMT labeling; colorectal cancer; glycoproteomics; oxonium ion.