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1.  Comparability analysis of anti-CD20 commercial (rituximab) and RNAi-mediated fucosylated antibodies by two LC-MS approaches 
mAbs  2013;5(4):565-575.
In developing biosimilar or biobetter products, comparability to the reference product is required to claim similar integrity or intended purpose. In this work, an anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody developed using RNA interference to decrease core fucosylation (RNAi-mediated) was comprehensively characterized by LC-MS and compared with the commercially-available anti-CD20 rituximab (MabThera®). As anticipated, < 30% core fucose was found within the RNAi-produced molecule (compared with > 90% in rituximab), and the reduction in fucose resulting in a significant improvement in FcγRΙΙΙa binding and antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity. Two mutations, S258Y (fully mutated) and F174I/L (partially mutated), however, were detected in the production of the RNAi-mediated molecule. An alternative LC-MS approach using dimethyl labeling (i.e., 2CH2 for rituximab and 2CD2 for the RNAi-mediated molecule) was developed to additionally compare the two mAbs and confirm the full sequence with the two mutation sites. Furthermore, disulfide linkages were found to be the same for the two antibodies, with a small portion of unpaired cysteines in both products. Disulfides were correctly linked if the samples were prepared at low pH (i.e., enzymatic digestion by pepsin at pH 2); however, trace amounts of scrambling were found by trypsin digestion at pH 6.8, and this scrambling increased significantly at pH 8. Typical modifications, such as pyro-Glu formation at the N-terminus, K clipping at the C-terminus, oxidation at Met, and deamidation at Asn, were also detected with no significant differences between the two products. Using the LC-MS approaches for the comparability study, product integrity with critical structure information was revealed for confirmation of intended purpose (core fucosylation), identification of critical parameters (e.g., sample pH), and correction as needed (amino acid mutation).
PMCID: PMC3906310  PMID: 23751726
biosimilar; LC-MS; sequence mutation; free cysteine; disulfide scrambling; structure characterization
2.  Development of a Chip/Chip/SRM platform using digital chip isoelectric focusing and LC-Chip mass spectrometry for enrichment and quantitation of low abundance protein biomarkers in human plasma 
Journal of proteome research  2011;11(2):808-817.
Protein biomarkers are critical for diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment of disease. The transition from protein biomarker discovery to verification can be a rate limiting step in clinical development of new diagnostics. Liquid chromatography-selected reaction monitoring mass spectrometry (LC-SRM MS) is becoming an important tool for biomarker verification studies in highly complex biological samples. Analyte enrichment or sample fractionation is often necessary to reduce sample complexity and improve sensitivity of SRM for quantitation of clinically relevant biomarker candidates present at the low ng/mL range in blood. In this paper, we describe an alternative method for sample preparation for LC-SRM MS, which does not rely on availability of antibodies. This new platform is based on selective enrichment of proteotypic peptides from complex biological peptide mixtures via isoelectric focusing (IEF) on a digital ProteomeChip (dPC™) for SRM quantitation using a triple quadrupole (QQQ) instrument with an LC-Chip (Chip/Chip/SRM). To demonstrate the value of this approach, the optimization of the Chip/Chip/SRM platform was performed using prostate specific antigen (PSA) added to female plasma as a model system. The combination of immunodepletion of albumin and IgG with peptide fractionation on the dPC, followed by SRM analysis, resulted in a limit of quantitation of PSA added to female plasma at the level of ~1–2.5 ng/mL with a CV of ~13%. The optimized platform was applied to measure levels of PSA in plasma of a small cohort of male patients with prostate cancer (PCa) and healthy matched controls with concentrations ranging from 1.5 to 25 ng/mL. A good correlation (r2 = 0.9459) was observed between standard clinical ELISA tests and the SRM-based-assay. Our data demonstrate that the combination of IEF on the dPC and SRM (Chip/Chip/SRM) can be successfully applied for verification of low abundance protein biomarkers in complex samples.
PMCID: PMC3656385  PMID: 22098410
Isoelectric focusing; IEF; digital ProteomeChip; dPC; selected reaction monitoring; SRM; prostate specific antigen; PSA; QQQ; LC-Chip
3.  Electron Transport in the Pathway of Acetate Conversion to Methane in the Marine Archaeon Methanosarcina acetivorans†  
Journal of Bacteriology  2006;188(2):702-710.
A liquid chromatography-hybrid linear ion trap-Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry approach was used to determine the differential abundance of proteins in acetate-grown cells compared to that of proteins in methanol-grown cells of the marine isolate Methanosarcina acetivorans metabolically labeled with 14N versus 15N. The 246 differentially abundant proteins in M. acetivorans were compared with the previously reported 240 differentially expressed genes of the freshwater isolate Methanosarcina mazei determined by transcriptional profiling of acetate-grown cells compared to methanol-grown cells. Profound differences were revealed for proteins involved in electron transport and energy conservation. Compared to methanol-grown cells, acetate-grown M. acetivorans synthesized greater amounts of subunits encoded in an eight-gene transcriptional unit homologous to operons encoding the ion-translocating Rnf electron transport complex previously characterized from the Bacteria domain. Combined with sequence and physiological analyses, these results suggest that M. acetivorans replaces the H2-evolving Ech hydrogenase complex of freshwater Methanosarcina species with the Rnf complex, which generates a transmembrane ion gradient for ATP synthesis. Compared to methanol-grown cells, acetate-grown M. acetivorans synthesized a greater abundance of proteins encoded in a seven-gene transcriptional unit annotated for the Mrp complex previously reported to function as a sodium/proton antiporter in the Bacteria domain. The differences reported here between M. acetivorans and M. mazei can be attributed to an adaptation of M. acetivorans to the marine environment.
PMCID: PMC1347274  PMID: 16385060
4.  In-Depth Characterization of N-Linked Oligosaccharides Using Fluoride-Mediated Negative Ion Microfluidic Chip LC-MS 
Analytical chemistry  2013;85(6):3127-3135.
Characterization of N-glycans by liquid chromatography-positive electrospray ionization (ESI) tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) using a microfluidic chip packed with porous graphitized carbon (PGC) represents a rapidly developing area in oligosaccharide analysis. Positive ion ESI-MS generates B/Y-type glycosidic fragment ions under collisional induced dissociation (CID). Although these ions facilitate glycan sequencing, they provide little information on linkage and positional isomers. Isomer identification in these cases is by retention on the PGC stationary phase where the specific structural isomers can, in principle, be separated. In this paper, we broaden the applicability of the PGC microfluidic chip/MS platform by implementing fluoride-mediated negative ESI-MS. Ammonium fluoride, added to the mobile phase, aids in the formation of pseudomolecular oligosaccharide anions due to the ability of fluoride to abstract a proton from the glycan structure. The negative charge results in the generation of C-type glycosidic fragments, highly informative A-type cross ring fragment ions and additional gas phase ion reaction products (e.g., D- and E-type ions), which, when combined, lead to in-depth oligosaccharide characterization, including linkage and positional isomers. Due to the separation of anomers by the PGC phase, comparison of oligosaccharides with an intact reducing terminus to their corresponding alditols was performed, revealing a more sensitive MS and, especially, MS/MS response from the glycans with a free reducing end. Fluoride also ensured recovery of charged oligosaccharides from the PGC stationary phase. Application to the characterization of N-glycans released from polyclonal human and murine serum IgG is presented to demonstrate the effectiveness of the chip/negative ESI approach.
PMCID: PMC3604099  PMID: 23398125
5.  An Integrated Proteomic Analysis of Major Isoaspartyl-Containing Proteins in the Urine of Wild Type and Protein L-Isoaspartate O-Methyltransferase-Deficient Mice 
Analytical chemistry  2013;85(4):2423-2430.
The formation of isoaspartyl residues (isoAsp or isoD) via either aspartyl isomerization or asparaginyl deamidation alters protein structure and potentially biological function. This is a spontaneous and non-enzymatic process, ubiquitous both in vivo and in non-biological systems, such as in protein pharmaceuticals. In almost all organisms, protein L-isoaspartate O-methyltransferase (PIMT, EC2.1.1.77) recognizes and initiates the conversion of isoAsp back to aspartic acid. Additionally, alternative proteolytic and excretion pathways to metabolize isoaspartyl-containing proteins have been proposed but not fully explored, largely due to the analytical challenges for detecting isoAsp. We report here the relative quantitation and site profiling of isoAsp in urinary proteins from wild type and PIMT-deficient mice, representing products from excretion pathways. First, using a biochemical approach, we found that the total isoaspartyl level of proteins in urine of PIMT-deficient male mice was elevated. Subsequently, the major isoaspartyl protein species in urine from these mice were identified as major urinary proteins (MUPs) by shotgun proteomics. To enhance the sensitivity of isoAsp detection, a targeted proteomic approach using electron transfer dissociation-selected reaction monitoring (ETD-SRM) was developed to investigate isoAsp sites in MUPs. Thirty-eight putative isoAsp modification sites in MUPs were investigated, with five derived from the deamidation of asparagine that were confirmed to contribute to the elevated isoAsp levels. Our findings lend experimental evidence for the hypothesized excretion pathway for isoAsp proteins. Additionally, the developed method opens up the possibility to explore processing mechanisms of isoaspartyl proteins at the molecular level, such as the fate of protein pharmaceuticals in circulation.
PMCID: PMC3599293  PMID: 23327623
6.  Complete Mapping of a Cystine Knot and Nested Disulfides of Recombinant Human Arylsulfatase A by Multi-Enzyme Digestion and LC-MS Analysis Using CID and ETD 
Cystine knots or nested disulfides are structurally difficult to characterize, despite current technological advances in peptide mapping with high-resolution liquid chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry (LC-MS). In the case of recombinant human arylsulfatase A (rhASA), there is one cystine knot at the C-terminal, a pair of nested disulfides at the middle, and two out of three unpaired cysteines in the N-terminal region. The statuses of these cysteines are critical structure attributes for rhASA function and stability that requires precise examination. We used a unique approach to determine the status and linkage of each cysteine in rhASA, which was comprised of multi-enzyme digestion strategies (from Lys-C, trypsin, Asp-N, pepsin, and PNGase F) and multi-fragmentation methods in mass spectrometry using electron transfer dissociation (ETD), collision induced dissociation (CID), and CID with MS3 (after ETD). In addition to generating desired lengths of enzymatic peptides for effective fragmentation, the digestion pH was optimized to minimize the disulfide scrambling. The disulfide linkages, including the cystine knot and a pair of nested cysteines, unpaired cysteines, and the posttranslational modification of a cysteine to formylglycine, were all determined. In the assignment, the disulfide linkages were Cys138 - Cys154, Cys143 - Cys150, Cys282 - Cys396, Cys470 - Cys482, Cys471 - Cys484, and Cys475 - Cys481. For the unpaired cysteines, Cys20 and Cys276 were free cysteines, and Cys51 was largely converted to formylglycine (> 70%). A successful methodology has been developed which can be routinely used to determine these difficult-to-resolve disulfide linkages, ensuring drug function and stability.
PMCID: PMC3554868  PMID: 23208745
7.  Reversion of the ErbB Malignant Phenotype and the DNA Damage Response 
The ErbB or HER family is a group of membrane bound tyrosine kinase receptors that initiate signal transduction cascades, which are critical to a wide range of biological processes. When over-expressed or mutated, members of this kinase family form homomeric or heteromeric kinase assemblies that are involved in certain human malignancies. Targeted therapy evolved from studies showing that monoclonal antibodies to the ectodomain of ErbB2/neu would reverse the malignant phenotype. Unfortunately, tumors develop resistance to targeted therapies even when coupled with genotoxic insults such as radiation.
Radiation treatment predominantly induces double strand DNA breaks, which, if not repaired, are potentially lethal to the cell. Some tumors are resistant to radiation treatment because they effectively repair double strand breaks. We and others have shown that even in the presence of ionizing radiation, active ErbB kinase signaling apparently enhances the repair process, such that transformed cells resist genotoxic signal induced cell death. We review here the current understanding of ErbB signaling and DNA double strand break repair. Some studies have identified a mechanism by which DNA damage is coordinated to assemblies of proteins that associate with SUN domain containing proteins. These assemblies represent a new target for therapy of resistant tumor cells.
PMCID: PMC3518600  PMID: 23022358
HER; ErbB; EGFR; DNA repair; Double-strand breaks; ionizing radiation; nuclear compartmentalization; SUN; KASH; LINC
8.  Comparative proteomic analysis reveals mechanistic insights into Pseudomonas putida F1 growth on benzoate and citrate 
AMB Express  2013;3:64.
Pseudomonas species are capable to proliferate under diverse environmental conditions and thus have a significant bioremediation potential. To enhance our understanding of their metabolic versatility, this study explores the changes in the proteome and physiology of Pseudomonas putida F1 resulting from its growth on benzoate, a moderate toxic compound that can be catabolized, and citrate, a carbon source that is assimilated through central metabolic pathways. A series of repetitive batch cultivations were performed to ensure a complete adaptation of the bacteria to each of these contrasting carbon sources. After several growth cycles, cell growth stabilized at the maximum level and exhibited a reproducible growth profile. The specific growth rates measured for benzoate (1.01 ± 0.11 h-1) and citrate (1.11 ± 0.12 h-1) were similar, while a higher yield was observed for benzoate (0.6 and 0.3 g cell mass per g of benzoate and citrate, respectively), reflecting the different degrees of carbon reduction in the two substrates. Comparative proteomic analysis revealed an enrichment of several oxygenases/dehydrogenases in benzoate-grown cells, indicative of the higher carbon reduction of benzoate. Moreover, the upregulation of all 14 proteins implicated in benzoate degradation via the catechol ortho-cleavage pathway was observed, while several stress-response proteins were increased to aid cells to cope with benzoate toxicity. Unexpectedly, citrate posed more challenges than benzoate in the maintenance of pH homeostasis, as indicated by the enhancement of the Na+/H+ antiporter and carbonic anhydrase. The study provides important mechanistic insights into Pseudomonas adaptation to varying carbon sources that are of great relevance to bioremediation efforts.
PMCID: PMC3827995  PMID: 24156539
Pseudomonas putida; Benzoate biodegradation; Batch culture; Quantitative proteomics; 2D-LC-MS/MS; Stress response
9.  Sialic Acid Speciation using Capillary Electrophoresis: Optimization of Analyte Derivatization and Separation 
Analytical chemistry  2012;84(18):7638-7642.
Capillary electrophoresis with laser induced fluorescence detection (CE-LIF) was employed for rapid sialic acid speciation, facilitating the quantitative determination of N-glycolylneuraminic acid (Neu5Gc) and N-acetylneuraminic acid (Neu5Ac) on glycoproteins. Derivatization of the sialic acids with 2-aminoacridone (2-AMAC), using classical reductive amination in a non-aqueous solvent, led to the spontaneous decarboxylation of the sialic acid residues as determined by CE-LIF and offline mass spectrometric analysis. Modification of both the labeling conditions to drive the decarboxylation reaction to completion and the CE-LIF parameters to separate the neutral species by complexation with a neutral coated capillary and borate reversed polarity, led to a robust platform for the rapid, sensitive and quantitative speciation of sialic acids. The method can readily be used for quality control of recombinant biopharmaceuticals.
PMCID: PMC3445727  PMID: 22901108
Sialic acid; N-acetylneuraminic acid; N-glycolylneuraminic acid; capillary electrophoresis; monosaccharide; 2-aminoacridone; decarboxylation
10.  Ultrasensitive Capillary Electrophoretic Analysis of Potentially Immunogenic Carbohydrate Residues in Biologics: Galactose-α-1,3-Galactose Containing Oligosaccharides 
Molecular Pharmaceutics  2012;9(6):1612-1619.
With the recent growth of the global monoclonal antibody market, ultrasensitive techniques are required for rapid analysis of possible immunogenic residues, such as galactose-α-1,3-galactose (α-1,3-Gal) on therapeutic proteins expressed in murine or CHO cell lines. We report a capillary electrophoretic approach in conjunction with exoglycosidase digestion for structural elucidation of N-linked IgG glycans containing the above immunogenic epitope. The method uses commercially available reagents and instrumentation, thus making the described methodology readily available for implementation and validation within the biotechnology industry. The method was first evaluated using polyclonal mouse IgG N-glycans which are known to contain α-1,3-Gal containing epitopes. High reproducibility in migration time enabled determination of GU values for five α-1,3-Gal containing structures. The method was successfully applied to the analysis of a NCI reference standard monoclonal antibody and two development phase monoclonal antibodies. The limit of detection and limit of quantitation were 1 and 2 µg of intact protein IgG starting material, respectively, further indicating the high sensitivity of the described method.
PMCID: PMC3367134  PMID: 22571495
therapeutic antibody; monoclonal antibody; alpha galactose; immunogenic epitopes; capillary electrophoresis; exoglycosidase digestion; glycomics
11.  Microproteomic Analysis of 10,000 Laser Captured Microdissected Breast Tumor Cells Using Short-Range Sodium Dodecyl Sulfate-Polyacrylamide Gel Electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) and Porous Layer Open Tubular (PLOT) LC-MS/MS 
Journal of chromatography. A  2011;1218(45):8168-8174.
Precise proteomic profiling of limited levels of disease tissue represents an extremely challenging task. Here, we present an effective and reproducible microproteomic workflow for sample sizes of only 10,000 cells that integrates selective sample procurement via laser capture microdissection (LCM), sample clean up and protein level fractionation using short-range SDS-PAGE, followed by ultrasensitive LC-MS/MS analysis using a 10 μm i.d. porous layer open tubular (PLOT) column. With 10,000 LCM captured mouse hepatocytes for method development and performance assessment, only 10% of the in-gel digest, equivalent to ~1000 cells, was needed per LC-MS/MS analysis. The optimized workflow was applied to the differential proteomic analysis of 10,000 LCM collected primary and metastatic breast cancer cells from the same patient. More than 1100 proteins were identified from each injection with >1700 proteins identified from three LCM samples of 10,000 cells from the same patient (1123 with at least two unique peptides). Label free quantitation (spectral counting) was performed to identify differential protein expression between the primary and metastatic cell populations. Informatics analysis of the resulting data indicated that vesicular transport and extracellular remodeling processes were significantly altered between the two cell types. The ability to extract meaningful biological information from limited, but highly informative cell populations demonstrates the significant benefits of the described microproteomic workflow.
PMCID: PMC3205921  PMID: 21982995
microproteomics; porous layer open tubular column; laser capture microdissection; breast cancer; sample preparation; low cell numbers
12.  Structural and biological features of FOXP3 dimerization relevant to regulatory T cell function 
Cell Reports  2012;1(6):665-675.
FOXP3 is a key transcription factor for regulatory T cell function. We report the crystal structure of the FOXP3 coiled coil domain, through which a loose or transient dimeric association is formed and modulated, accounting for the activity variations introduced by disease-causing mutations or posttranslational modifications. Structure-guided mutagenesis revealed that FOXP3 coiled coil mediated homo-dimerization is essential for Treg function in vitro and in vivo. In particular, we identified human FOXP3 K250 and K252 as key residues for the conformational change and stability of the FOXP3 dimer, which can be regulated by protein posttranslational modifications such as reversible lysine acetylation. These studies provide structural and mechanistic explanations for certain disease-causing mutations in the coiled coil domain of FOXP3 that are commonly found in IPEX syndrome. Overall the regulatory machinery involving homo-oligomerization, acetylation, and hetero-association has been dissected, defining atomic insights into the biological and pathological characteristics of the FOXP3 complex.
PMCID: PMC3401381  PMID: 22813742
FOXP3; IPEX Syndrome; Dimerization; Acetylation; Complex Assembly
13.  Rapid High Resolution Characterization of Functionally Important Monoclonal Antibody N-Glycans by Capillary Electrophoresis 
Analytical chemistry  2011;83(13):5329-5336.
Characterization of the N-glycosylation present in the Fc region of therapeutic monoclonal antibodies requires rapid, high resolution separation methods to guarantee product safety and efficacy during all stages of process development. Determination of fucosylated oligosaccharides is particularly important during clone selection, product characterization and lot release as fucose has been shown to adversely affect the ability of mAbs to induce antibody dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC). Here, we apply a general capillary electrophoresis optimization strategy to separate functionally relevant fucosylated and afucosylated glycans on mononclonal antibody products in the presence of several high mannose oligosaccharides. The N-glycans chosen represent those most commonly reported on CHO cell derived therapeutic antibodies. A rapid (<7 min) high resolution separation of twelve commonly reported and functionally important IgG glycans was developed by systematically evaluating the effects of selectivity (boric acid) and efficiency (linear polyacrylamide) enhancing additives. The approach can be used to rapidly optimize capillary electrophoresis separation of other glycan mixtures. Following optimization, the method was applied to overnight sample processing for automated 96 well plate-based glycosylation analyses of two non-proprietary therapeutic monoclonal antibodies, demonstrating ruggedness and suitability for high-throughput process and product monitoring applications.
PMCID: PMC3128192  PMID: 21591710
14.  2D-LC Analysis of BRP 3 Erythropoietin N-Glycosylation using Anion Exchange Fractionation and Hydrophilic Interaction UPLC Reveals Long Poly-N-Acetyl Lactosamine Extensions 
Analytical chemistry  2011;83(11):4154-4162.
Post translational modifications, in particular glycosylation, represent critical structural attributes that govern both the pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic properties of therapeutic glycoproteins. To guarantee safety and efficacy of recombinant therapeutics, characterization of glycosylation present is a regulatory requirement. In the current paper, we applied a multidimensional strategy comprising a shallow anion exchange gradient in the first dimension, followed by analysis using the recently introduced 1.7 μm HILIC phase in the second dimension for the comprehensive separation of complex N-glycans present on the European Biological Reference Preparation (BRP) 3 erythropoietin standard. Tetra-antennary glycans with multiple sialic acids and poly-N-acetyl lactosamine extensions were the most abundant oligosaccharides present on the molecule. Site-specific glycan analysis was performed to examine microheterogeneity. Tetra-antennary glycans with up to four sialic acids and up to five poly-N-acetyl lactosamine extensions were observed at asparagine 24 and 83, while bi-antennary glycans were the major structures at asparagine 38. The combined AEC × UPLC HILIC allows for the rapid and comprehensive analysis of complex N-glycosylation present on therapeutic glycoproteins such as BRP3 erythropoietin.
PMCID: PMC3105185  PMID: 21504189
Erythropoietin; biopharmaceutical; oligosaccharides; glycan analysis; glycomics; proteomics; site specific glycosylation; ultra performance liquid chromatography; hydrophilic interaction liquid chromatography
15.  Characterization and Comparison of Disulfide Linkages and Scrambling Patterns in Therapeutic Monoclonal Antibodies - Using LC-MS with Electron Transfer Dissociation 
Analytical chemistry  2011;83(8):3133-3140.
The disulfides in three monoclonal antibodies (mAb), the anti-HER2, anti-CD11a, and GLP-1 with IgG4-Fc fusion protein, were completely mapped by LC-MS with the combination of ETD and CID fragmentation. In addition to mapping the 4 inter- and 12 intra-chain disulfides (total 16), the identification of scrambled disulfides in degraded samples (heat-stress) was achieved. The scrambling was likely attributed to an initial breakage between the light (Cys 214) and heavy (Cys 223) chains in anti-HER2, with the same observation found in a similar therapeutic mAb, anti-CD11a. On the other hand, the fusion antibody, with no light chain but containing only 2 heavy chains, generated much less scrambling under the same heat-stressed conditions. The preferred sites of scrambling were identified, such as the intra-chain disulfide for CxxC in the heavy chain, and the C194 of the heavy chain pairing with the terminal Cys residue (C214) in the light chain. The inter-chain disulfides between the light and heavy chains were weaker than the inter-chain disulfides between the two heavy chains. The relative high abundance ions observed in ETD provided strong evidence for the linked peptide information, which was particularly useful for the identification of the scrambled disulfides. The use of SDS-PAGE helped the separation of these misfolded proteins for the determination of scrambled disulfide linkages. This methodology is useful for comparison of disulfide stability generated from different structural designs, and providing a new way to determine the scrambling patterns, which could be applied for those seeking to determine unknown disulfide linkages.
PMCID: PMC3082428  PMID: 21428412
16.  Ultrasensitive Characterization of Site-Specific Glycosylation of Affinity Purified Haptoglobin from Lung Cancer Patient Plasma Using 10 μm i.d. Porous Layer Open Tubular (PLOT) LC-LTQ-CID/ETD-MS 
Analytical chemistry  2011;83(6):2029-2037.
Site-specific analysis of protein glycosylation is important for biochemical and clinical research efforts. Glycopeptide analysis using liquid chromatography - collision induced dissociation/electron transfer dissociation - mass spectrometry (LC-CID/ETD-MS) allows simultaneous characterization of glycan structure and attached peptide site. However, due to the low ionization efficiency of glycopeptides during electrospray ionization (ESI), 200–500 fmol of sample per injection is needed for a single LC-MS run, which makes it challenging for the analysis of limited amounts of glycoprotein purified from biological matrices. To improve the sensitivity of LC-MS analysis for glycopeptides, an ultra-narrow porous layer open tubular (PLOT) LC column (2.5 m × 10 μm i.d.) was coupled to a linear ion trap mass spectrometer (LTQ-CID/ETD-MS) to provide sensitive analysis of N-linked protein glycosylation heterogeneity. The potential of the developed method is demonstrated by the characterization of site-specific glycosylation using haptoglobin (Hpt) as a model protein. To limit the amount of haptoglobin to low pmole amounts of protein, we affinity purified it from 1 μL of pooled lung cancer patients plasma. A total of 26 glycoforms/glycan compositions on three Hpt tryptic glycopeptides were identified and quantified from 10 LC-MS runs with a consumption of 100 fmol Hpt digest (13 ng protein, 10 fmol per injection). Included in this analysis was the determination of the glycan occupancy level. At this sample consumption level, the high sensitivity of the PLOT LC-LTQ-CID/ETD-MS allowed glycopeptide identification and structure determination, along with relative quantitation of glycans presented on the same peptide backbone, even for low abundant glycopeptides at the ~100 attomole level. The PLOT LC-MS is shown to have sufficient sensitivity to allow characterization of site-specific protein glycosylation from trace levels of glycosylated proteins.
PMCID: PMC3073582  PMID: 21338062
17.  Discovery of Lung Cancer Biomarkers by Profiling the Plasma Proteome with Monoclonal Antibody Libraries* 
Molecular & Cellular Proteomics : MCP  2011;10(12):M111.010298.
A challenge in the treatment of lung cancer is the lack of early diagnostics. Here, we describe the application of monoclonal antibody proteomics for discovery of a panel of biomarkers for early detection (stage I) of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). We produced large monoclonal antibody libraries directed against the natural form of protein antigens present in the plasma of NSCLC patients. Plasma biomarkers associated with the presence of lung cancer were detected via high throughput ELISA. Differential profiling of plasma proteomes of four clinical cohorts, totaling 301 patients with lung cancer and 235 healthy controls, identified 13 lung cancer-associated (p < 0.05) monoclonal antibodies. The monoclonal antibodies recognize five different cognate proteins identified using immunoprecipitation followed by mass spectrometry. Four of the five antigens were present in non-small cell lung cancer cells in situ. The approach is capable of generating independent antibodies against different epitopes of the same proteins, allowing fast translation to multiplexed sandwich assays. Based on these results, we have verified in two independent clinical collections a panel of five biomarkers for classifying patient disease status with a diagnostics performance of 77% sensitivity and 87% specificity. Combining CYFRA, an established cancer marker, with the panel resulted in a performance of 83% sensitivity at 95% specificity for stage I NSCLC.
PMCID: PMC3237079  PMID: 21947365
18.  Analysis of Isoaspartic Acid by Selective Proteolysis with Asp-N and Electron Transfer Dissociation Mass Spectrometry 
Analytical chemistry  2010;82(17):7485-7491.
A ubiquitous yet underappreciated protein post-translational modification, isoaspartic acid (isoAsp, isoD or β-Asp), generated via the deamidation of asparagine or isomerization of aspartic acid in proteins, plays a diverse and crucial role in ageing, as well as autoimmune, cancer, neurodegeneration and other diseases. In addition, formation of isoAsp is a major concern in protein pharmaceuticals, as it may lead to aggregation or activity loss. The scope and significance of isoAsp have, up to now, not been fully explored, as an unbiased screening of isoAsp at low abundance remains challenging. This difficulty is due to the subtle difference in the physicochemical properties between isoAsp and Asp, e.g., identical mass. In contrast, endoprotease Asp-N (EC selectively cleaves aspartyl peptides but not the isoaspartyl counterparts. As a consequence, isoaspartyl peptides can be differentiated from those containing Asp and also enriched by Asp-N digestion. Subsequently, the existence and site of isoaspartate can be confirmed by electron transfer dissociation (ETD) mass spectrometry. As little as 0.5 % of isoAsp was detected in synthetic beta amyloid and cytochrome c peptides, even though both were initially assumed to be free of isoAsp. Taken together, our approach should expedite the unbiased discovery of isoAsp.
PMCID: PMC2936825  PMID: 20712325
19.  Identification of the Unpaired Cysteine Status and Complete Mapping the 17 Disulfides of Recombinant Tissue Plasminogen Activator Using LC-MS with ETD/CID 
Analytical chemistry  2010;82(12):5296-5303.
Recombinant tissue plasminogen (rt-PA) with 35 cysteine residues has been completely assigned by mapping the 17 disulfide linkages and the unpaired cysteine. The result is consistent with the prediction from homology except for the unassigned cysteine, which was identified at Cys83. This cysteine was found to be blocked and paired with either a glutathione or cysteine residue in a ~ 60 :40 ratio, respectively. The analysis was conducted using a multi-fragmentation approach consisting of ETD and CID, in combination with a multi-enzyme digestion strategy (Lys-C, trypsin, and Glu-C). The disulfide-linked peptides, even those containing N or O-linked glycosylation, could be assigned since the disulfide bonds were still preferably cleaved over the glycosidic cleavages under ETD fragmentation. The use of a multiple and sequential enzymatic digestion strategy was important in producing fragment sizes suitable for analysis. For the analysis of complex intertwined disulfides, the use of CID MS3 to target partially disulfide dissociated peptides from the ETD fragmentation was necessary for linkage assignment. The ability to identify the exact location and status of the unpaired cysteine (free or blocked with a glutathione or cysteine) could shed light on the activation of rt-PA, upon stimulation by either oxidative or ischemic stress.
PMCID: PMC2890214  PMID: 20481521
20.  Characterization of the Glycosylation Occupancy and the Active Site in the Follow-on Protein Therapeutic: TNK-Tissue Plasminogen Activator 
Analytical chemistry  2010;82(14):6154-6162.
TNK-tPA products from the innovator and follow-on manufacturers were characterized and compared. All tryptic peptides including N-terminal, C-terminal and mutated peptides as well as the disulfide linked peptides were identified, with the demonstration of the same primary sequence and disulfide linkages between the innovator and follow-on products. The three N-linked and one O-linked fucose glycosylation sites were identified. The two N-linked (N103 and N448) and one O-linked fucose (T61) sites were fully glycosylated in both innovator and follow-on products. The other N-linked site (N184) was partially glycosylated and exhibited a ~2.5 fold difference between the innovator (60% occupancy) and follow-on (25% occupancy) products. Since the glycosylation occupancy at this site is known to affect biological activity in the clot lysis assay, this observed difference could cause a concern as to their bioequivalence. The cleavage site for the conversion of the zymogen form to active enzyme was also identified between R275 and I276, with a cleavage of 40% for the innovator and 10% for the follow-on products. Both the % glycosylation occupancy and the chain cleavage were determined by two independent approaches, starting from either the peptide or intact protein separation, with consistent results by both methods. Subtle differences of modifications such as deamidation and oxidation between innovator and biosimilar were shown at M207, M445, M490 and N58, N184. The observation of different extent of oxidation at M207 and deamidation at N184, which could influence the clot lysis activity, were also of potential concern in drug efficacy between the follow-on and innovator products.
PMCID: PMC3104925  PMID: 20552988
21.  Histone deacetylase activity is necessary for left-right patterning during vertebrate development 
Consistent asymmetry of the left-right (LR) axis is a crucial aspect of vertebrate embryogenesis. Asymmetric gene expression of the TGFβ superfamily member Nodal related 1 (Nr1) in the left lateral mesoderm plate is a highly conserved step regulating the situs of the heart and viscera. In Xenopus, movement of maternal serotonin (5HT) through gap-junctional paths at cleavage stages dictates asymmetry upstream of Nr1. However, the mechanisms linking earlier biophysical asymmetries with this transcriptional control point are not known.
To understand how an early physiological gradient is transduced into a late, stable pattern of Nr1 expression we investigated epigenetic regulation during LR patterning. Embryos injected with mRNA encoding a dominant-negative of Histone Deacetylase (HDAC) lacked Nr1 expression and exhibited randomized sidedness of the heart and viscera (heterotaxia) at stage 45. Timing analysis using pharmacological blockade of HDACs implicated cleavage stages as the active period. Inhibition during these early stages was correlated with an absence of Nr1 expression at stage 21, high levels of heterotaxia at stage 45, and the deposition of the epigenetic marker H3K4me2 on the Nr1 gene. To link the epigenetic machinery to the 5HT signaling pathway, we performed a high-throughput proteomic screen for novel cytoplasmic 5HT partners associated with the epigenetic machinery. The data identified the known HDAC partner protein Mad3 as a 5HT-binding regulator. While Mad3 overexpression led to an absence of Nr1 transcription and randomized the LR axis, a mutant form of Mad3 lacking 5HT binding sites was not able to induce heterotaxia, showing that Mad3's biological activity is dependent on 5HT binding.
HDAC activity is a new LR determinant controlling the epigenetic state of Nr1 from early developmental stages. The HDAC binding partner Mad3 may be a new serotonin-dependent regulator of asymmetry linking early physiological asymmetries to stable changes in gene expression during organogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3113753  PMID: 21599922
Xenopus; left-right asymmetry; laterality; Nodal; HDAC
22.  Antigen Identification and Characterization of Lung Cancer Specific Monoclonal Antibodies Produced by mAb Proteomics 
Journal of proteome research  2010;9(4):1834-1842.
A mass spectrometric (MS)-based strategy for antigen (Ag) identification and characterization of globally produced monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) is described. Mice were immunized with a mixture of native glycoproteins, isolated from the pooled plasma of patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), to generate a library of IgG-secreting hybridomas. Prior to immunization, the pooled NSCLC plasma was subjected to 3-sequential steps of affinity fractionation, including high abundant plasma protein depletion, glycoprotein enrichment and polyclonal antibody affinity chromatography normalization. In this paper, in order to demonstrate the high quality of the globally produced mAbs, we selected 3 mAbs of high differentiating power against a matched, pooled normal plasma sample. After production of large quantities of the mAbs from ascites fluids, Ag identification was achieved by immunoaffinity purification, SDS-PAGE, Western blotting and MS analysis of in-gel digest products. One antigen was found to be complement factor H, and the other two were mapped to different subunits of haptoglobin (Hpt). The 2 Hpt mAbs were characterized in detail in order to assess the quality of the mAbs produced by the global strategy. The affinity of one of the mAbs to the Hpt native tetramer form was found to have a KD of roughly 10−9 M and to be 2 orders of magnitude lower than the reduced form, demonstrating the power of the mAb proteomics technology in generating mAbs to the natural form of the proteins in blood. The binding of this mAb to the β-chain of haptoglobin was also dependent on glycosylation on this chain. The characterization of mAbs in this work reveals that the global mAb proteomics process can generate high-quality lung cancer specific mAbs capable of recognizing proteins in their native state.
PMCID: PMC2849899  PMID: 20146545
monoclonal antibody; mAb proteomics; antibody characterization; glycoprotein; haptoglobin; conformational epitope; lung cancer
Analytical chemistry  2010;82(6):2588-2593.
The standard, well-established sample preparation protocol to release N-linked glycans from glycoproteins for downstream analysis requires relatively long deglycosylation times (from several hours to overnight) and relatively high endoglycosidase concentration (1:250 – 1:500 enzyme:substrate molar ratio). In this paper, we significantly improve this standard protocol by the use of pressure cycling technology (PCT) to increase the speed and decrease the relative amount of PNGase F during the release of N-linked glycans from denatured glycoproteins. With the application of pressure cycling from atmospheric to as high as 30 kPsi, >95% release of the asparagine linked glycans from bovine ribonuclease B, human transferrin and polyclonal human immunoglobulin was rapidly achieved in a few minutes using as low as 1:2500 enzyme:substrate molar ratio. The deglycosylation rate was first examined by SDS-PAGE at the protein level. The released glycans were then quantitated by capillary electrophoresis with laser induced fluorescence detection (CE-LIF). This new sample preparation protocol readily supports large scale glycan analysis of biopharmaceuticals with rapid deglycosylation times.
PMCID: PMC2847834  PMID: 20170179
Electrophoresis  2010;31(8):1389-1395.
Capillary electrophoresis (CE) is a high resolution separation technique broadly used in the biotechnology industry for carbohydrate analysis. The standard sample preparation protocol for CE analysis of glycans released from glycoproteins generally requires derivatization times of overnight at 37°C, using ≥100 fold excess of fluorophore reagent, 8-aminopyrene-1,3,6-trisulfonic-acid (APTS), if the sample is unknown, or it is a regulated biotherapeutic product, possibly containing terminal sialic acid(s). In this paper, we report on significant improvements for the standard CE sample preparation method of glycan analysis. By replacing the conventionally used acetic acid catalyst with citric acid, as low as 1 : 10 glycan to fluorophore molar ratio (vs the typical 1 : ≥100 ratio) maintained the >95% derivatization yield at 55°C with only 50 minutes reaction time. Terminal sialic acid loss was negligible at 55°C during the derivatization process, and thus the kinetics of labeling at 55°C was faster than the loss of sialic acid from the glycan. The reduced relative level of APTS simplified the removal of excess reagent, important in both CE-LIF (electrokinetic injection bias) and CE-MS (ion suppression). Coupling capillary electrophoresis to electrospray ionization mass spectrometry confirmed that the individual peaks separated by CE corresponded to single glycans and increased the confidence of structural assignment based on glucose unit values.
PMCID: PMC2898890  PMID: 20309892
glycan analysis; fluorophore labeling; capillary electrophoresis
25.  Chemical Methods for the Detection of Protein N-Homocysteinylation via Selective Reactions with Aldehydes 
Analytical chemistry  2009;81(21):9065-9071.
Elevated blood levels of homocysteine (Hcy), hyperhomocysteinemia or homocystinuria, have been associated with various diseases and conditions. Homocysteine thiolactone (Hcy TL) is a metabolite of Hcy and reacts with amine groups in proteins to form stable amides, homocystamides or N-homocysteinylated proteins. It has been proposed that protein N-homocysteinylation contributes to the cytotoxicity of elevated Hcy. Due to its heterogeneity and relatively low abundance, detection of this post-translational modification remains challenging. On the other hand, the gamma-aminothiol group in homocystamides imparts different chemical reactivities than the native proteins. Under mildly acidic conditions, gamma-aminothiols irreversibly and stoichiometrically react with aldehydes to form stable 1,3-thiazines, whereas the reversible Schiff base formation between aldehydes and amino groups in native proteins is markedly disfavored due to protonation of amines. As such, we have developed highly selective chemical methods to derivatize N-homocysteinylated proteins with various aldehyde tags, thereby facilitating the subsequent analyses. For instance, fluorescent or biotin tagging coupled with gel electrophoresis permits quantification and global profiling of complex biological samples, such as hemoglobin and plasma from rat, mouse and human; affinity enrichment with aldehyde resins drastically reduces sample complexity. In addition, different reactivities of lysine residues in hemoglobin towards Hcy TL were observed.
PMCID: PMC2771319  PMID: 19874060

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