Rapid analysis of O-acetylated neuraminic acids by matrix assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry

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N-Acetylneuraminic acid (a sialic acid) occurs mainly as a terminal substituent of oligosaccharides of glycoconjugates. Derivatives of neuraminic acid occur widely, substituted in the amino and hydroxy side chains, as well in the C-9 carbon skeleton. These derivatives are responsible for specific functions of sialic acids during cell-cell, cell-substrate, or cell-virus interactions. The study of O-acetylated neuraminic acids is difficult, because only small amounts are extractable from natural sources and they are generally unstable to acids and bases. We report a new method for the rapid analysis of O-acetylated neuraminic acids, using a combination of reversed phase HPLC and MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry. A mixture of neuraminic acids from bovine submaxillary gland mucins was analysed, as well as neuraminic acids variously substituted in the amino and hydroxy side chains with acetyl and glycolyl groups, respectively. © 1998 Rapid Science Ltd

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