Analysis of gangliosides using fast atom bombardment mass spectrometry

H. Egge, J. Peter-Katalinić, G. Reuter, R. Schauer, R. Ghidoni, S. Sonnino, G. Tettamanti

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The native gangliosides GM3, GM1, Fuc-GM1, GD1a, GD1b, Fuc-GD1b, GT1b and GQ1b were analysed by fast atom bombardment mass spectrometry (FAB-MS) in the negative ion mode in a matrix of thioglycerol. After permethylation the same gangliosides were analysed by electron impact (EI) and FAB-MS in the positive ion mode. The negative ion mass spectra furnished information on the molecular weight, the ceramide moiety and the sequence of carbohydrate residues. The sites of attachment and the number of sialic acids present could be deduced directly from the pattern of sequence ions. After addition of sodium acetate positive ion FAB-spectra of the permethylated samples show intense pseudomolecular ions M+Na, that provide evidence on the homogeneity of the samples. In addition, the ceramide part, the oligosaccharide moiety obtained after cleavage of the glycosidic bond of the hexosamine residue, the whole carbohydrate chain and the sialic acids are represented by specific fragment ions. With EI-MS further information can be obtained on the sphingosine and fatty acid components of the ceramide residue. The data show, that the combination of soft ionization mass spectrometry with classical EI-MS gives valuable information on the structure and homogeneity of gangliosides. The method is also applicable to the structural elucidation or quantitation of more complex gangliosides or glycolipid mixtures using only micrograms of material.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-141
Number of pages15
JournalChemistry and Physics of Lipids
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1985


  • fast atom bombardment mass spectrometry
  • native gangliosides
  • negative ion mass spectrometry
  • permethylated gangliosides

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Biophysics

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