Xu LiFollow

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Dr. Peng George Wang

Second Advisor

Dr. Suazette Reid Mooring

Third Advisor

Dr. Gangli Wang

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Siming Wang


N-linked glycosylation is the most common post-translational modification (PTM) of proteins that exist in nature. N-glycosylation and change in cells serve as a criterion to monitor the activity of developmental stages and diseases severity. Currently, there is an increasing application of mass spectrometry on glycoprotein for malicious, chronic or acute diseases, such as cancers, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or influenza.

In this dissertation, several mass spectrometric assays have been utilized to, quantitatively and qualitatively, characterize protein N-glycosylation at the glycan, glycopeptide and peptide levels. The goals are to identify serum-based RA biomarker (Chapter 2), or to determine possible glycan structures from monoclonal antibody (Chapter 3), or comprehensively to study one influenza glycoprotein, hemagglutinin (Chapter 4).

In Chapter 2, LC-MS/MS with CID as MS 2 is the primary technique that is applied to collect raw data for RA biomarker screening; western blot is the verification method for newfound biomarkers. This mass spectrometry based comparative analysis of N-glycoprotein in RA and healthy patients’ sera reveal 41 potential biomarkers for RA that can be applied in clinical research. Chapter 3 describes another LC-MS/MS based method developed for the structural analysis of N-glycan released from the monoclonal antibody, immunoglobin G. Higher-energy collision dissociation (HCD) was the surprior technique utilized to identify glycopeptide fragments. The results show that 19 and 23 N-glycan structures were determined from standard and modified mAb samples respectively by using SimGlycan software, while 38 and 35 glycan structures were recognized by manually mapping respectively. 13 N-glycoforms, out of 26 overlapped glycan structures, were identified with significant alterations by comparing standard sample (sample A) and modified mAb (sample B) utilizing our method. In Chapter 4, we comprehensively studied hemagglutinin by using LC-MS/MS and MALDI from both proteomic perspective and glycomics prospective. After confirmed and verified protein sequence and glycosylation sites, galactose-specific quantitation was performed with exoglycosidase digestion combined HPLC with fluorescence detection. The MALDI-MS/MS based method was utilized to confirm glycan structures.

The results in this dissertation provide insights into the significance of protein glycosylation alterations as RA biomarkers, and these quantitative methods can be reapplied to any other disease biomarkers screening for clinical researchers.