High-performance anion-exchange chromatography of oligosaccharides using pellicular resins and pulsed amperometric detection

R. Reid Townsend, Mark R. Hardy, Ole Hindsgaul, Yuan Chuan Lee

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High-performance liquid chromatography using pellicular quaternary amine-bonded resins was used to separate a variety of neutral, sialylated, and phosphorylated oligosaccharides. At pH 4.6, sialylated compounds were separated according to number of negative charges, sialic acid linkage [α(2,3) compared to α(2,6)], and position of sialic acid linkage along a linear saccharide chain. At pH 13, the neutral sugar portion of the sialylated chain had a significant effect on the separation, due to oxyanion formation. Specifically, sialylated tetrasaccharides containing the Galβ(1,3)GlcNAc sequence were retained much more than their Galβ(1,4)GlcNAc- or Galβ(1,4)GalNAc-sialylated counterparts. Linear phosphorylated oligosaccharides could be completely separated according to number of charges and net carbohydrate content. Partial separation of linear-chain positional isomers, differing in either location of Man-6-PO4 in the chain or linkage position of Man or Man-6-PO4, was accomplished. Branched-chain phosphorylated compounds could be completely separated according to which antennae contained the Man-6-PO4. The electrochemical current generated by oxidation of sialylated, phosphorylated, and neutral oligosaccharides was compared to that of a glucose. The relative molar response factors for neutral, sialylated, and phosphorylated oligosaccharides ranged from 0.2 to 3.2. Neutral oligosaccharides gave the following molar responses for each group of structurally related compounds: (1) mono- and disaccharide, 1-1.3; (2) linear tri- and tetrasaccharides, 1.5-2.0; and (3) branched pentasaccharide-nonasaccharides, 2.4-3.1. Response factors for the sialyated compounds were not as consistent and were affected by linkage position of sialic acid. For oligosaccharides of the same size, increasing phosphorylation resulted in a twofold decrease in response factor for each added phosphate group. Therefore, conversion of sialylated and phosphorylated oligosaccharides to their neutral counterparts, using alkaline phosphatase or neuraminidase, respectively, was required for quantitative analysis of oligosaccharide mixtures using electrochemical response. Using this approach, complete separation of the parent neutral structures was obtained, the relative proportions of the neutral species were quantified, and the amount of sialic acid released was easily determined in a neuraminidase digest.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)459-470
Number of pages12
JournalAnalytical Biochemistry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 1 1988


  • HPLC
  • carbohydrates
  • electrochemical detection
  • glycoproteins
  • oligosaccharides


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