Automated interpretation of MS/MS spectra of oligosaccharides

Haixu Tang, Yehia Mechref, Milos V. Novotny

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

97 Scopus citations


Motivation: The emerging glycomics and glycoproteomics projects aim to characterize all forms of glycoproteins in different tissues and organisms. Tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) is the key experimental methodology for high-throughput glycan identification and characterization. Fragmentation of glycans from high energy collision-induced dissociation generates ions from glycosidic as well as internal cleavages. The cross-ring ions resulting from internal cleavages provide additional information that is important to reveal the type of linkage between monosaccharides. This information, however, is not incorporated into the current programs for analyzing glycan mass spectra. As a result, they can rarely distinguish from the mass spectra isomeric oligosaccharides, which have the same saccharide composition but different types of sequences, branches or linkages. Results: In this paper, we describe a novel algorithm for glycan characterization using MS/MS. This algorithm consists of three steps. First, we develop a scoring scheme to identify potential bond linkages between monosaccharides, based on the appearance pattern of cross-ring ions. Next, we use a dynamic programming algorithm to determine the most probable oligosaccharide structures from the mass spectrum. Finally, we re-evaluate these oligosaccharide structures, taking into account the double fragmentation ions. We also show the preliminary results of testing our algorithm on several MS/MS spectra of oligosaccharides.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)i431-i439
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
StatePublished - Jun 2005


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