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N- and O‑Glycosylation Analysis of Etanercept Using Liquid Chromatography and Quadrupole Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometry Equipped with Electron-Transfer Dissociation Functionality

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journal contribution
posted on 07.01.2014, 00:00 authored by Stephane Houel, Mark Hilliard, Ying Qing Yu, Niaobh McLoughlin, Silvia Millan Martin, Pauline M. Rudd, Jonathan P. Williams, Weibin Chen
Etanercept is a highly glycosylated therapeutic Fc-fusion protein that contains multiple N- and O-glycosylation sites. An in-depth characterization of the glycosylation of etanercept was carried out using liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (LC/MS) methods in a systematic approach in which we analyzed the N- and O-linked glycans and located the occupied O-glycosylation sites. Etanercept was first treated with peptide N-glycosidase F to release the N-glycans. The N-glycan pool was labeled with a 2-aminobenzamide (2-AB) fluorescence tag and separated using ultraperformance liquid chromatography–hydrophilic interaction liquid chromatography (UPLC-HILIC). Preliminary structures were assigned using Glycobase. These assignments, which included monosaccharide sequence and linkage information, were confirmed by exoglycosidase array digestions of aliquots of the N-glycan pool. The removal of the N-glycans from etanercept facilitated the selective characterization of O-glycopeptides and enabled the O-glycans to be identified. These were predominantly of the core 1 subtype (HexHexNAc O-structure) attached to Ser/Thr residues. α2→3,6,8,9 sialidase was used to remove the sialic acid residues on the O-glycans allowing the use of an automated LC/MSE protocol to identify the O-glycopeptides. Electron-transfer dissociation (ETD) was then used to pinpoint the 12 occupied O-glycosylation sites. The determination of N- and O-glycans and O-glycosylation sites in etanercept provides a basis for future studies addressing the biological importance of specific protein glycosylations in the production of safe and efficacious biotherapeutics.