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Mass spectrometry for structural characterization of therapeutic antibodies



Antibodies, also known as immunoglobulins, have emerged as one of the most promising classes of therapeutics in the biopharmaceutical industry. The need for complete characterization of the quality attributes of these molecules requires sophisticated techniques. Mass spectrometry (MS) has become an essential analytical tool for the structural characterization of therapeutic antibodies, due to its superior resolution over other analytical techniques. It has been widely used in virtually all phases of antibody development. Structural features determined by MS include amino acid sequence, disulfide linkages, carbohydrate structure and profile, and many different post-translational, in-process, and in-storage modifications. In this review, we will discuss various MS-based techniques for the structural characterization of monoclonal antibodies. These techniques are categorized as mass determination of intact antibodies, and as middle-up, bottom-up, top-down, and middle-down structural characterizations. Each of these techniques has its advantages and disadvantages in terms of structural resolution, sequence coverage, sample consumption, and effort required for analyses. The role of MS in glycan structural characterization and profiling will also be discussed. © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc., Mass Spec Rev 28:147–176, 2009