Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry

, Volume 15, Issue 9, pp 1274–1286 | Cite as

Delineating mechanisms of dissociation for isomeric heparin disaccharides using isotope labeling and ion trap tandem mass spectrometry



Heparin and heparan sulfate (HS) glycosaminoglycans have been identified as important players in many physiological as well as pathophysiological settings. A better understanding of the biosynthesis and structure of these molecules is critical for further elucidation of their biological function. We have demonstrated the successful use of negative electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry in the differentiation of all twelve standard heparin-building blocks, including the potentially important N-unsubstituted disaccharides. Collision induced dissociation of each of the isomeric disaccharides provided unique product ion spectra, useful for identification and quantification of the relative amounts of each isomer present. In the research presented herein, isotopic labeling studies using 18O and 2H were used to determine the origins of each of the neutral losses observed in the product ion spectra, and mechanisms of dissociation consistent with the observed data were postulated. The general mechanisms postulated were for the generation of B, Y, and Z ions formed from glycosidic cleavages, as well as A and X ions formed from cross-ring cleavages. The eight isomeric heparin disaccharides all underwent cross-ring cleavage to form 0,2X1 and 0,2A2 ions, and further experiments suggest that the mechanisms of formation of these ions are through a charge-remote process. The tandem mass spectrometry data presented herein also provide a foundation for further developments towards a practical analysis tool for the structural elucidation of larger, biologically important heparin/HS oligosaccharides by using mass spectrometry.


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© American Society for Mass Spectrometry 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ChemistryUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA

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