Solid-phase permethylation for glycomic analysis

Yehia Mechref, Pilsoo Kang, Milos V. Novotny

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

66 Scopus citations


This chapter discusses in detail a miniaturized version of the widely used permethylation technique which permits quantitative derivatization of oligosaccharides derived from minute quantities of glycoprotein. The approach involves packing of sodium hydroxide powder or beads in a microcolumn format, including spin columns, fused silica capillaries (500 μm i.d.) and plastic tubes (1 mm i.d.). The derivatization proceeds effectively in less than a minute time scale and it is applicable to glycans derived from femtomole quantities of glycoproteins. Prior to mass spectrometry (MS), methyl iodide is added to analytes suspended in dimethyl sulfoxide solution containing traces of water. The reaction mixture is then immediately infused through the microreactor. The packed sodium hydroxide powder or beads inside the microcolumns minimize oxidative degradation and peeling reactions which are otherwise commonly associated with the conventional permethylation technique. In addition, this solid-phase permethylation approach eliminates the need for excessive sample clean-up. As demonstrated below, picomole amounts of various types of glycans derived from model glycoproteins as well as real samples, including linear and branched, sialylated and neutral glycans were shown to become rapidly and efficiently permethylated through this approach.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGlycomics
Subtitle of host publicationMethods and Protocols
EditorsNicolle Packer, Niclas Karlsson
Number of pages12
StatePublished - 2009

Publication series

NameMethods in Molecular Biology
ISSN (Print)1064-3745


  • Glycans derived from glycoproteins
  • Mass spectrometry
  • Oligosaccharides
  • Permethylation
  • Sodium hydroxide-packed capillaries
  • Sodium hydroxide-packed spin columns


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