Protein glycosylation has a significant medical importance as changes in glycosylation patterns have been associated with a number of diseases. Therefore, monitoring potential changes in glycan profiles, and the microheterogeneities associated with glycosylation sites, are becoming increasingly important in the search for disease biomarkers. Highly efficient separations and sensitive methods must be developed to effectively monitor changes in the glycoproteome. These methods must not discriminate against hydrophobic or hydrophilic analytes. The use of activated graphitized carbon as a desalting media and a stationary phase for the purification and the separation of glycans, and as a stationary phase for the separation of small glycopeptides, has previously been reported. Here, we describe the use of activated graphitized carbon as a stationary phase for the separation of hydrophilic tryptic glycopeptides, employing a chip-based liquid chromatographic (LC) system. The capabilities of both activated graphitized carbon and C18 LC chips for the characterization of the glycopeptides appeared to be comparable. Adequate retention time reproducibility was achieved for both packing types in the chip format. However, hydrophilic glycopeptides were preferentially retained on the activated graphitized carbon chip, thus allowing the identification of hydrophilic glycopeptides which were not effectively retained on C18 chips. On the other hand, hydrophobic glycopeptides were better retained on C18 chips. Characterization of the glycosylation sites of glycoproteins possessing both hydrophilic and hydrophobic glycopeptides is comprehensively achieved using both media. This is feasible considering the limited amount of sample required per analysis (<1 pmol). The performance of both media also appeared comparable when analyzing a four-protein mixture. Similar sequence coverage and MASCOT ion scores were observed for all proteins when using either stationary phase. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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