MALDI Mass Spectrometry Imaging of N-Linked Glycans in Tissues

  • Richard R. DrakeEmail author
  • Connor A. West
  • Anand S. Mehta
  • Peggi M. Angel
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 1104)


Matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) has been used for two decades to profile the glycan constituents of biological samples. An adaptation of the method to tissues, MALDI mass spectrometry imaging (MALDI-MSI), allows high-throughput spatial profiling of hundreds to thousands of molecules within a single thin tissue section. The ability to profile N-glycans within tissues using MALDI-MSI is a recently developed method that allows identification and localization of 40 or more N-glycans. The key component is to apply a molecular coating of peptide-N-glycosidase to tissues, an enzyme that releases N-glycans from their protein carrier. In this chapter, the methods and approaches to robustly and reproducibly generate two-dimensional N-glycan tissue maps by MALDI-MSI workflows are summarized. Current strengths and limitations of the approach are discussed, as well as potential future applications of the method.


Formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissue Fucosylation Glycomics Glycoprotein MALDI imaging mass spectrometry N-linked glycosylation Sialylation 



Formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded


Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance






N-acetylglucosaminyltransferase 3


N-acetylglucosaminyltransferase 4


N-acetylglucosaminyltransferase 5


Hexose (e.g., mannose, glucose, galactose)


N-acetylhexosamine (e.g., N-acetylglucosamine or N-acetylgalactosamine)


Lactosamine (galactose and N-acetylglucosamine disaccharide)


Matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry




Mass Spectrometry


Mass spectrometry imaging


N-acetylneuraminic acid (sialic acid)


N-glycolylneuraminic acid


Peptide-N-glycosidase F


trifluoroacetic acid


Tissue microarray



This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute R21 CA185799 to RRD and the National Institutions of Health/National Institute of General Medical Sciences P20GM103542 to PMA.

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard R. Drake
    • 1
    Email author
  • Connor A. West
    • 1
  • Anand S. Mehta
    • 1
  • Peggi M. Angel
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Cell and Molecular Pharmacology and Experimental TherapeuticsMedical University of South CarolinaCharlestonUSA

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