Enhancing glycan isomer separations with metal ions and positive and negative polarity ion mobility spectrometry-mass spectrometry analyses
Glycomics has become an increasingly important field of research since glycans play critical roles in biology processes ranging from molecular recognition and signaling to cellular communication. Glycans often conjugate with other biomolecules, such as proteins and lipids, and alter their properties and functions, so glycan characterization is essential for understanding the effects they have on cellular systems. However, the analysis of glycans is extremely difficult due to their complexity and structural diversity (i.e., the number and identity of monomer units, and configuration of their glycosidic linkages and connectivities). In this work, we coupled ion mobility spectrometry with mass spectrometry (IMS-MS) to characterize glycan standards and biologically important isomers of synthetic αGal-containing O-glycans including glycotopes of the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, which is the causative agent of Chagas disease. IMS-MS results showed significant differences for the glycan structural isomers when analyzed in positive and negative polarity and complexed with different metal cations. These results suggest that specific metal ions or ion polarities could be used to target and baseline separate glycan isomers of interest with IMSMS.