Glycosylation patterns of human chorionic gonadotropin revealed by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry and bioinformatics

Toll,H.; Berger,P.; Hofmann,A.; Hildebrandt,A.; Oberacher,H.; Lenhof,H.P.; Huber,C.G.
Due to their extensive structural heterogeneity, the elucidation of glycosylation patterns in glycoproteins such as the subunits of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), hCG-alpha, and hCG-beta, remains one of the most challenging problems in the proteomic analysis of post-translational modifications. In consequence, glycosylation is usually studied after decomposition of the intact proteins to the proteolytic peptide level. However, by this approach all information about the combination of the different glycopeptides in the intact protein is lost. In this study we have, therefore, attempted to combine the results of glycan identification after tryptic digestion with molecular mass measurements on the native starting material of the new first WHO Reference Reagents (RR) for hCG-alpha (99/720) and hCG-beta (99/650). Despite the extremely high number of possible combinations of the glycans identified in the tryptic peptides by HPLC-MS (>1000 for hCG-alpha and >10 000 for hCG-beta), the mass spectra of intact hCG-alpha and hCG-beta revealed only a limited number of glycoforms present in hCG preparations from pools of pregnancy urines. Peak annotations for hCG-alpha were performed with the help of a bioinformatic algorithm that generated a database containing all possible modifications of the proteins, including modifications possibly introduced during sample preparation such as oxidation or truncation, for subsequent searches for combinations fitting the mass difference between the polypeptide backbone and the measured molecular masses. Fourteen different glycoforms of hCG-alpha, containing biantennary, partly sialylized hybrid-type glycans, including methionine-oxidized and N-terminally truncated forms, were identified. Mass spectra of high quality were also obtained for hCG-beta, however, a database search mass accuracy of +/-5 Da was insufficient to unambiguously assign the possible combinations of post-translational modifications. In summary, mass spectrometric fingerprints of intact molecules were shown to be highly useful for the characterization of glycosylation patterns of different hCG preparations such as the new first WHO RR for immunoassays and could be the first step in establishing biophysical reference methods for hCG and related molecules
Electrophoresis 2006 27(13):2734-2746
Tags: chemistry; Chorionic Gonadotropin; Chromatography,Liquid; CHROMATOGRAPHY-MASS SPECTROMETRY; Computational Biology; Germany; Glycosylation; human; identification; Immunoassay; metabolism; methods; Microscopy,Energy-Filtering Transmission Electron; Peptide Fragments; Polysaccharides; Pregnancy; Protein; SEARCH; Trypsin; urine
PubMed: 16817158
Home » Research » Publications » Detail