The change in glycosylation of serum proteins is often associated with the development of various diseases and thus can be used for diagnosis. In this study, a liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry-based method is used for accurate structural analysis and quantification of site-specific glycoforms of serum α-1-antitrypsin (A1AT) in early-stage HCC and cirrhosis patients. Serum protein A1AT was purified from patient sera by immunoprecipitation with anti-A1AT antibody conjugated agarose beads, and the isolated A1AT protein was digested and analyzed by LC-MS/MS. Two tandem mass spectrometry strategies are integrated in this study: A nontargeted stepped HCD strategy for structural analysis of A1AT glycopeptides and a targeted parallel reaction monitoring (PRM) strategy for quantification of site-specific glycoforms of A1AT in HCC and cirrhosis patient sera. Accordingly, pGlyco2.0 software was used for glycopeptide identification, and Skyline software was used for glycoform quantification using the Y1 ion (peptide+GlcNAc) in MS/MS spectra. Ten site-specific glycopeptides of A1AT were identified with stepped HCD-MS/MS in patient samples, 7 of which were further quantified using HCD-PRM-MS among patient samples. We found that our strategy was able to distinguish isomers of glycopeptides where several isomers showed distinctly different patterns between cirrhosis and HCC patients. We also found that the ratio of different charge states (2+/3+) of one glycopeptide of A1AT can significantly discriminate early-stage HCC from cirrhosis with the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve AUC of 0.9. Further analysis showed that the difference may be related to the sialic acid/galactose linkage of the glycan motif.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Analytical Chemistry