The high structural variation of glycan derived from glycoconjugates, which substantially increases with the molecular size of a protein, contributes to the complexity of glycosylation patterns commonly associated with glycoconjugates. In the case of glycoproteins, such variation originates from the multiple glycosylation sites of proteins and the number of glycan structures associated with each site (microheterogeneity). The ability to comprehensively characterize highly complex mixture of glycans has been analytically stimulating and challenging. Although the most powerful MS and MS/MS techniques are capable of providing a wealth of structural information, they are still not able to readily identify isomeric glycan structures without high-order MS/MS (MS n). The analysis of isomeric glycan structures has been attained using several separation methods, including high-pH anion-exchange chromatography, hydrophilic interaction chromatography and GC. However, CE and microfluidics CE (MCE) offer high separation efficiency and resolutions, allowing the separation of closely related glycan structures. Therefore, interfacing CE and MCE to MS is a powerful analytical approach, allowing potentially comprehensive and sensitive analysis of complex glycan samples. This review describes and discusses the utility of different CE and MCE approaches in the structural characterization of glycoproteins and the feasibility of interfacing these approaches to MS.
- Microfluidics CE