Small scale affinity purification and high sensitivity reversed phase nanoLC-MS N-glycan characterization of mAbs and fusion proteins

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N-glycosylation is a complex post-translational modification with potential effects on the efficacy and safety of therapeutic proteins and known influence on the effector function of biopharmaceutical monoclonal antibodies (mAbs). Comprehensive characterization of N-glycosylation is therefore important in biopharmaceutical development. In early development, e.g. during pool or clone selection, however, only minute protein amounts of multiple samples are available for analytics. High sensitivity and high throughput methods are thus needed. An approach based on 96-well plate sample preparation and nanoLC-MS of 2- anthranilic acid or 2-aminobenzoic acid (AA) labeled N-glycans for the characterization of biopharmaceuticals in early development is reported here. With this approach, 192 samples can be processed simultaneously from complex matrices (e.g., cell culture supernatant) to purified 2-AA glycans, which are then analyzed by reversed phase nanoLC-MS. Attomolar sensitivity has been achieved by use of nanoelectrospray ionization, resulting in detailed glycan maps of mAbs and fusion proteins that are exemplarily shown in this work. Reproducibility, robustness and linearity of the approach are demonstrated, making use in a routine manner during pool or clone selection possible. Other potential fields of application, such as glycan biomarker discovery from serum samples, are also presented.

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