Quantitation of permethylated n-glycans through multiple-reaction monitoring (MRM) LC-MS/MS

Shiyue Zhou, Yunli Hu, Janie L. Desantos-Garcia, Yehia Mechref

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


The important biological roles of glycans and their implications in disease development and progression have created a demand for the development of sensitive quantitative glycomics methods. Quantitation of glycans existing at low abundance is still analytically challenging. In this study, an N-linked glycans quantitation method using multiple-reaction monitoring (MRM) on a triple quadrupole instrument was developed. Optimum normalized collision energy (CE) for both sialylated and fucosylated N-glycan was determined to be 30%, whereas it was found to be 35% for either fucosylated or sialylated N-glycans. The optimum CE for mannose and complex type N-glycan was determined to be 35%. Additionally, the use of three transitions was shown to facilitate reliable quantitation. A total of 88 N-glycan compositions in human blood serum were quantified using this MRM approach. Reliable detection and quantitation of these glycans was achieved when the equivalence of 0.005 μL of blood serum was analyzed. Accordingly, N-glycans down to the 100th of a μL level can be reliably quantified in pooled human blood serum, spanning a dynamic concentration range of three orders of magnitude. MRM was also effectively utilized to quantitatively compare the expression of N-glycans derived from brain-targeting breast carcinoma cells (MDA-MB-231BR) and metastatic breast cancer cells (MDA-MB-231). Thus, the described MRM method of permethylated N-glycan enables a rapid and reliable identification and quantitation of glycans derived from glycoproteins purified or present in complex biological samples.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)596-603
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2015


  • Glycans
  • Permethylation
  • Quantitation


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