The N-linked glycosylation of the constant fragment (Fc) of immunoglobulin G has been shown to change during pathological and physiological events and to strongly influence antibody inflammatory properties. In contrast, little is known about Fab-linked N-glycosylation, carried by 20% of IgG. Here we present a high-throughput workflow to analyze Fab and Fc glycosylation of polyclonal IgG purified from 5 μl of serum. We were able to detect and quantify 37 different N-glycans by means of MALDITOF- MS analysis in reflectron positive mode using a novel linkage-specific derivatization of sialic acid. This method was applied to 174 samples of a pregnancy cohort to reveal Fab glycosylation features and their change with pregnancy. Data analysis revealed marked differences between Fab and Fc glycosylation, especially in the levels of galactosylation and sialylation, incidence of bisecting GlcNAc, and presence of high mannose structures, which were all higher in the Fab portion than the Fc, whereas Fc showed higher levels of fucosylation. Additionally, we observed several changes during pregnancy and after delivery. Fab N-glycan sialylation was increased and bisection was decreased relative to postpartum time points, and nearly complete galactosylation of Fab glycans was observed throughout. Fc glycosylation changes were similar to results described before, with increased galactosylation and sialylation and decreased bisection during pregnancy. We expect that the parallel analysis of IgG Fab and Fc, as set up in this paper, will be important for unraveling roles of these glycans in (auto)immunity, which may be mediated via recognition by human lectins or modulation of antigen binding.,
Molecular and Cellular Proteomics
Department of Pediatrics

Bondt, A, Rombouts, Y, Selman, M.H.J, Hensbergen, P, Reiding, K.R, Hazes, J.M.W, … Wuhrer, M. (2014). Immunoglobulin G (IgG) fab glycosylation analysis using a new mass spectrometric high-throughput profiling method reveals pregnancy-associated changes. Molecular and Cellular Proteomics, 13(11), 3029–3039. doi:10.1074/mcp.M114.039537