Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry

Structural analysis of underivatized neutral human milk oligosaccharides in the negative ion mode by nano-electrospray MS(n) (part 1: methodology).

PMID 12443024


Underivatized neutral oligosaccharides from human milk were analyzed by nano-electrospray ionization (ESI) using a quadrupole ion trap mass spectrometer (QIT-MS) in the negative-ion mode. Under these conditions neutral oligosaccharides are observed as deprotonated molecules [M-H]- with high intensity. CID-experiments of these species with the charge localized at the reducing end lead to C-type fragment ions forming a "new" reducing end. Fragmentations are accompanied by cross-ring cleavages that yield information about linkages of internal monosaccharides. Several isomeric compounds with distinct structural features, such as different glycosidic linkages, fucosylation and branching sites were investigated. The rules governing the fragmentation behavior of this class of oligosaccharides were elucidated and tested for a representative number of certain isomeric glycoforms using the MS/MS and MS(n) capabilities of the QIT. On the basis of the specific fragmentation behavior of deprotonated molecules, the position of fucoses and the linkage type (Gal beta-->3 GlcNAc or Gal beta1-->4 GlcNAc) could be determined and linear and branched could be differentiated. Rules could be established which can be applied in further investigations of these types of oligosaccharides even from heterogenous mixtures.