Unraveling the glyco-puzzle: Glycan structure identification by capillary electrophoresis

Stefan Mittermayr, Jonathan Bones, András Guttman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

38 Citations (Scopus)


State-of-the-art high-resolution separation techniques play an important role in the full structural elucidation of glycans. Capillary electrophoresis (CE) offers a rapid yet simple method for exhaustive carbohydrate profiling. CE is a versatile analytical platform, which can be operated in several separation modes, simply by altering separation conditions during operation. For in-depth glycan structural analysis, CE has also gained significantly from the additional resolution introduced by complementary and orthogonal separation techniques such as ion exchange or hydrophilic interaction chromatography. Commercially available mass spectrometry (MS) interfaces have not only brought this information-rich detection technique within reach, but CE also represents an expedient highly efficient separation inlet for MS, capable of separating isobaric oligosaccharide isomers prior to MS detection and MS/MS fragmentation based identification. This Perspective gives a sophisticated impression of the versatility of capillary electrophoresis for deep structural elucidation of carbohydrates derived from glycoproteins of biomedical interest. Different separation modes for the analysis of both charged and neutral glycans, such as influencing electroosmotic flow, using complexation/interaction based secondary equilibria, and the use of charged and neutral labels are compared. The merits of introducing orthogonal and complementary techniques, such as exoglycosidase digestion arrays, analytical/preparative chromatography and mass spectrometric detection, extending the dynamic range and resolution of CE are all thoroughly discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4228-4238
Number of pages11
JournalAnalytical Chemistry
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - May 7 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry

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