Date: 10 Oct 2012

Introduction to Glycosylation and Mass Spectrometry

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Glycosylation is increasingly recognized as a common and biologically significant post-translational modification of proteins. Modern mass spectrometry methods offer the best ways to characterize the glycosylation state of proteins. Both glycobiology and mass spectrometry rely on specialized nomenclature, techniques, and knowledge, which pose a barrier to entry by the nonspecialist. This introductory chapter provides an overview of the fundamentals of glycobiology, mass spectrometry methods, and the intersection of the two fields. Foundational material included in this chapter includes a description of the biological process of glycosylation, an overview of typical glycoproteomics workflows, a description of mass spectrometry ionization methods and instrumentation, and an introduction to bioinformatics resources. In addition to providing an orientation to the contents of the other chapters of this volume, this chapter cites other important works of potential interest to the practitioner. This overview, combined with the state-of-the-art protocols contained within this volume, provides a foundation for both glycobiologists and mass spectrometrists seeking to bridge the two fields.