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Selective enrichment of sialic acid–containing glycopeptides using titanium dioxide chromatography with analysis by HILIC and mass spectrometry

Abstract

The terminal monosaccharide of cell surface glycoconjugates is typically a sialic acid (SA), and aberrant sialylation is involved in several diseases. Several methodological approaches in sample preparation and subsequent analysis using mass spectrometry (MS) have enabled the identification of glycosylation sites and the characterization of glycan structures. In this paper, we describe a protocol for the selective enrichment of SA-containing glycopeptides using a combination of titanium dioxide (TiO2) and hydrophilic interaction liquid chromatography (HILIC). The selectivity of TiO2 toward SA-containing glycopeptides is achieved by using a low-pH buffer that contains a substituted acid such as glycolic acid to improve the binding efficiency and selectivity of SA-containing glycopeptides to the TiO2 resin. By combining TiO2 enrichment of sialylated glycopeptides with HILIC separation of deglycosylated peptides, a more comprehensive analysis of formerly sialylated glycopeptides by MS can be achieved. Here we illustrate the efficiency of the method by the identification of 1,632 unique formerly sialylated glycopeptides from 817 sialylated glycoproteins. The TiO2/HILIC protocol requires 2 d and the entire procedure from protein isolation can be performed in <5 d, depending on the time taken to analyze data.

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Figure 1: Flowchart illustrating the protocol.
Figure 2
Figure 3: HILIC separation and identified sialylated glycopeptides in HeLa cell membranes.
Figure 4: Efficiency and specificity of the enrichment technique.

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Acknowledgements

This study was supported by the Lundbeck Foundation (to M.R.L.; Junior Group Leader Fellowship), the Danish Natural Science Research Council (to M.R.L.; 09-06-5989) and the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) of Australia (to S.J.C.; 571002).

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Contributions

G.P. optimized the protocol, performed the experiments and wrote the manuscript; S.E.L. performed the experiments; K.E.-K. set up the HILIC fractionation; R.L.-L. proofread the manuscript; B.L.P. wrote the manuscript; M.R.L. conceived the idea, supervised the experiments and wrote the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Martin R Larsen.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Palmisano, G., Lendal, S., Engholm-Keller, K. et al. Selective enrichment of sialic acid–containing glycopeptides using titanium dioxide chromatography with analysis by HILIC and mass spectrometry. Nat Protoc 5, 1974–1982 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1038/nprot.2010.167

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